Versed by Rae Armantrout, published by Wesleyan University Press, was awarded this year’s Pulitzer Prize for poetry in April. The Pulitzer Prize citation noted that the poetry collection was “a book striking for its wit and linguistic inventiveness, offering poems that are often little thought–bombs detonating in the mind long after the first reading.”
Armantrout wrote the poems in the first half of Versed in reaction to the Iraq war and the controversies that arose afterwards. The second half deals with her battle with a rare type of cancer. In talking about Versed, she has mentioned that the first part of the book chronicles a disease of the body politic and the second a disease in her own body, so it seemed fitting to bring the two together.
Armantrout is a professor of writing and literature at the University of California, San Diego, where she has taught for almost three decades. She has published 10 books of poetry.
Versed also has received the 2009 National Book Critics Circle Award for the poetry category and was a finalist for the 2009 National Book Award for poetry.
Several other books published by Wesleyan University Press have recently won awards and prizes:
Practical Water by Brenda Hillman—2010 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for poetry
My Vocabulary Did This To Me: The Collected Poetry of Jack Spicer—2009 American Book Award and the 2009 Northern California Independent Booksellers Award for poetry
Henry Austin: In Every Variety of Architectural Style by James F. O’Gorman—Historic New England’s 2009 Book Prize
Rhetorics of Fantasy by Farah Mendlesohn —2009 British Science Fiction Association (BSFA) Award for nonfiction
For a list of all Wesleyan University Press awards: wesleyan.edu/wespress/awards.html