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Mary Szybist Wins Two Prestigious Awards: the 12th Annual Witter Bynner Fellowship and NEA Grant

March 23, 2009

Lewis & Clark College assistant professor of English, Mary Szybist, and Christina Davis from Boston won the prestigious 2009 Witter Bynner Fellowships. They were chosen by the Poet Laureate Kay Ryan who will introduce them on Feb. 26 at the Library of Congress. Szybist will read her poem at 6:45 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 26, in the Montpelier Room on the sixth floor of the Library’s James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave., S.E., Washington, D.C. 20540.


Szybist and Davis each will receive a $10,000 fellowship. Ryan said, “Mary Szybist’s lovely musical touch is light and exact enough to catch the weight and grind of love. This is a hard paradox to master as she does.” For further information on Witter Bynner fellowships and the poetry program at the Library of Congress, visit poetry/.


Mary Szybist also received a prestigious National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Literature Fellowship in creative writing. The highly competitive fellowships of $25,000 each are given to published creative writers of exceptional talent, encouraging the production of new work and allowing writers the time and means to write. One of the foremost awards in the literary field, the NEA grant will support Szybist’s work on her second book of poems, tentatively titled Incarnadine.


“A grant like this is a boost of adrenaline to the writing process,” said Szybist. “As I’ve worked on my current manuscript for the last few years, I have cycled through periods of faith and doubt, both about the poems and the project as a whole. To have the NEA select my work for this distinction is a great gift of validation, and I am eager to return to my manuscript with a renewed sense of vigor and excitement.”


Szybist’s poetry has appeared in Virginia Quarterly Review, The Iowa Review, The Kenyon Review, Poetry, Tin House, and Best American Poetry 2008. Her first book, Granted, was named one of the top ten books of poetry in 2003 by Library Journal. Also that year, Szybist was a finalist for the National Book Circle Critic’s Award in Poetry.