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Juliana Spahr Wins Prestigious Hardison Poetry Prize from the Folger Shakespeare Library

Oakland, CA–August 31, 2009. Mills College English Professor Juliana Spahr is the recipient of the 19th annual O. B. Hardison, Jr. Poetry Prize from the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC. The Hardison Prize is the only major American prize to recognize a poet’s teaching and work that “demonstrate the spirit of inquiry, imagination, daring, and scholarship” of Hardison, Jr.’s legacy.

Spahr will receive $10,000, one of the larger American poetry prizes, and a reading and reception at the Folger Shakespeare Library on Friday, October 9, 2009 at 7:30 pm. A free public seminar with Spahr is at 5:00 pm.

"The Mills College community is thrilled that Professor Juliana Spahr’s extraordinary poetry and teaching are being recognized with this distinguished award," said Mills College President Janet L. Holmgren.

Joshua Weiner, one of the judges of the prize, described Spahr’s work as “Her lines connect experiences and collect objects in a language that is daring for its plainness, clarity, analysis, self-deprecation, earnestness and irony, its unabashed lyrical phrasing, its unembarrassed willingness to make claims about the relation between self and world, between social consciousness and physical desire.”

Established in 1991, the Hardison Prize is presented in memory of former Folger Shakespeare Library director O. B. Hardison, Jr., a scholar, teacher, and poet who established the Folger’s prestigious public programs. Previous winners of the Hardison Poetry Prize include Mary Kinzie (2008), David Wojahn (2007), and David Rivard (2006).

Spahr has achieved numerous accomplishments and awards, including the National Poetry Series Award for her second collection of poetry, Response (Sun & Moon Press, 1996). She has published six other book of poetry: This Connection of Everyone with Lungs (University of California Press, 2005), Things of Each Possible Relation Hashing Against One Another (Palm Press, 2003), Fuck You-Aloha-I Love You (Wesleyan University Press, 2001), Spiderwasp or Literary Criticism (Explosive Books, 1998), and Nuclear (Leave Books, 1994). Her latest book, The Transformation (Atelos Press, 2007), is a kind of lyric prose memoir.

Spahr is the author of Everybody’s Autonomy: Connective Reading and Collective Identity (Alabama, 2001), a scholarly study of contemporary poetry that fosters a value of reading as communal, democratic, open process.

In addition to teaching and writing poetry, Spahr is also an active editor. Her collaborative efforts with Peter Gizzi (Writing from the New Coast: Technique), Claudia Rankine (American Women Poets in the 21st Century: Where Lyric Meets Language), Joan Retallack (Poetry and Pedagogy: the Challenge of the Contemporary), and Jena Osman (Chain, a literary journal), have enriched and extended how we think about contemporary writing and how contemporary writing helps us reconsider the work of teaching.

Originally from Ohio, Spahr has a BA from Bard College in Languages and Literatures and a PhD in English from the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York. Prior to her tenure at Mills College, she has taught at Siena College in New York and the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

She is also Director of the Creative Writing Program at Mills College. Learn more about the writing program.

Nestled in the foothills of Oakland, California, Mills College is a nationally renowned, independent liberal arts college offering a dynamic progressive education that fosters leadership, social responsibility, and creativity to approximately 950 undergraduate women and 500 graduate women and men. Since 2000, applications to Mills College have more than doubled. The College is named one of the top colleges in the West by U.S. News & World Report, one of the Best 371 Colleges by the Princeton Review, and ranks 55th among America's best colleges by Forbes.com. Visit us at www.mills.edu.


Quynh Tran
Media Relations Manager

Last Updated: 2/27/17