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March 14, 2002

2002 Witter Bynner Fellows George Bilgere and Katia Kapovich to Read at the Library of Congress

Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry Billy Collins has granted $12,500 poetry fellowships to poets George Bilgere and Katia Kapovich. The awards are from the Witter Bynner Foundation in conjunction with the Library of Congress.

The 2002 Witter Bynner Fellows will read at the Library of Congress on Wednesday, April 3, in the Mumford Room, sixth floor, Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E. at 6:45 p.m. Poet Laureate Billy Collins will be present to introduce the poets. Tickets are not required.

The fellowships are to be used to support the writing of poetry. Only two things are asked of the fellows: that they organize a local poetry reading (this year, in Cleveland, Ohio, and Cambridge, Mass., respectively) and that they participate in a poetry reading at the Library of Congress.

George Bilgere teaches at John Carroll University in Cleveland. His poems appear regularly in many literary journals, including Poetry, The Sewanee Review, and Ploughshares. His poetry has been featured in Best American Poetry (1992 and 1999), and he has received grants in poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Ohio Arts Council. In 1991 he was a Fulbright Fellow in Bilbao, Spain. His two collections of poetry are Big Bang (1999); and The Going (1999), which won the Devins Award. A new book, The Good Kiss, which won the Akron Poetry Prize for 2001, is forthcoming from Akron University Press in the fall of 2002.

Katia Kapovich is a bilingual poet writing in English and Russian. Her English-language poems have most recently appeared in the London Review of Books, Ploughshares, Harvard Review, and many other literary journals. The collections of her work in Russian include a novel in verse, Suflior (The Prompter), published in 1998. Richard McKane's translations of her Russian poems have appeared in his anthologies, Poet for Poet (1998) and Surviving the Twentieth Century: Ten Russian Poets (2001). In 1990, Ms. Kapovich emigrated from the U.S.S.R., where she had been a member of a literary dissident movement, and she currently lives and works in Cambridge, Mass. In 1993 and 1994 she taught Russian literature at Boston College. She also co-edits a new English-language poetry magazine, Fulcrum.

The funding source for these fellowships, the Witter Bynner Foundation for Poetry, was incorporated in 1972 in New Mexico to provide grant support for programs in poetry through nonprofit organizations. Mr. Bynner was an influential early 20th-century poet and translator of the Chinese classic the Tao Te Ching, which he named The Way of Life According to Lao-tzu. He traveled with D.H. and Frieda Lawrence and proposed to Edna St. Vincent Millay (she accepted, but then they changed their minds). He worked at McClure's magazine, where he published A.E. Houseman for the first time in the United States and was one of O. Henry's early fans.

The Witter Bynner Foundation has given the Library a total of $150,000 over five years; $25,000 for two or more poets each year to be chosen by the incumbent Poet Laureate in conjunction with the Library to encourage poets and poetry, and $5,000 annually for five years to assist with costs of the Poet Laureateship.

This is the Fellowship's fifth and final year. Previous fellows were: Carol Muske and Carl Phillips (1998); David Gewanter, Heather McHugh, and Campbell McGrath (1999); and Naomi Shihab Nye and Joshua Weiner (2000) -- all appointed by Robert Pinsky -- and Tory Dent and Nick Flynn (2001), appointed by Stanley Kunitz.

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PR 02-036
03/14/02
ISSN 0731-3527

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