The Foundation for Contemporary Arts in New York City has announced a $1 million endowment gift from artists Ellsworth Kelly and Jack Shear to establish the C.D. Wright Award in Poetry.
Named for poet C.D. Wright, the $40,000 prize will be awarded annually to a poet over the age of 50 whose work exemplifies the lyricism, seriousness, and striking originality of Wright's own work. The award will be administered by the foundation's Grants to Artists program, which was established in 1993 to provide unrestricted cash awards to individual artists in all disciplines.
Wright, who was a recipient of a Grants to Artists award in 1999, passed away in 2016 at the age of 67. A champion of the poetry community, she was also a tireless teacher and supporter of young poets as the I.J. Kapstein Professor of Literary Arts at Brown University from 1983 until her death. With her husband, poet Forrest Gander, Wright founded and ran Lost Roads Publishers, a book press with a backlist of some forty-five titles. In addition to celebrating the spirit of her own work, the C.D. Wright Award for Poetry is designed to continue Wright's commitment to her peers.
The inaugural C.D. Wright Award will be made to poet Lisa Robertson, an experimental poet born in Canada who is now based in France.
"The C.D. Wright Award for Poetry marks Ellsworth Kelly's and Jack Shear's second major contribution to FCA," said the foundation's executive director, Stacy Tenenbaum Stark. "Their deep understanding of the artist community has once again produced a visionary opportunity for artists. It is doubly meaningful that this award is named for C.D. Wright, a past grantee of the foundation, and that it will support poetry, a vital and underresourced artistic discipline. We are thrilled that the first C.D. Wright Award will be made to Lisa Robertson."