Poet Jorie Graham, Harvard’s Boylston professor of rhetoric and oratory, has become the first American woman to win the Forward Prize for best collection, awarded by England’s Forward Arts Foundation. The prize, which carries an award of £10,000, honors her twelfth collection, Place, published in April.
Graham is a much-honored poet who won the Pulitzer Prize in 1996 for The Dream of the Unified Field: Selected Poems 1974-1994. The Forward panel of poets and critics called Place “startling, powerful, never predictable” and “a joy” to read. The Chicago-based Poetry Foundation has identified Graham as “perhaps the most celebrated poet of the American post-war generation.” With her students, she organized a live event celebrating Harvard poets, “Over the Centuries: Poetry at Harvard (A Love Story),” for the Arts First festival this spring.
A 2001 profile of Graham in Harvard Magazine explores her poetry, her life, and her teaching, including her 25 years at the Iowa Writers Workshop before she came to Harvard, where she succeeded Seamus Heaney as Boylston professor in 1998.