PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Poet Michael S. Harper, University Professor and professor of English at Brown, has been named the recipient of the 2008 Frost Medal from the Poetry Society of America (PSA), which honors distinguished lifetime service to American poetry. Harper will receive the award and deliver the Frost Medal Lecture on Monday, April 21, 2008, during the PSA’s 98th Annual Awards Ceremony at the National Arts Club in New York City.
“I consider Robert Frost to be the greatest poet in the American language from the 20th century – and one of my favorites,” said Harper. “To simply be the recipient of an award with his name on it is a great, great honor.”
The Frost Medal is awarded annually at the discretion of the PSA’s Board of Governors for distinguished lifetime service to American poetry. Robert Frost, Edgar Lee Masters, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Marianne Moore, and Wallace Stevens have all been honored with this award. Recent recipients include A.R. Ammons, John Ashbery, Gwendolyn Brooks, Barbara Guest, Donald Hall, Anthony Hecht, Josephine Jacobsen, Galway Kinnell, Stanley Kunitz, James Laughlin, Denise Levertov, Adrienne Rich, Sonia Sanchez, William Stafford, and Richard Wilbur.
“Michael Harper’s achievements as an important and prolific poet, a distinguished and beloved teacher and an inspired editor make him the ideal recipient of the Poetry Society of America’s highest honor,” said Ruth Kaplan, president of the Poetry Society of America. “We could not be more delighted to recognize his accomplishments with The Robert Frost Award.”
Michael S. Harper was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1938. He earned a B.A. and M.A. from what is now known as California State University, and an M.F.A. from the University of Iowa. He has taught at Brown since 1970.
Harper has published more than 10 books of poetry, most recently Selected Poems (ARC Publications, 2002); Songlines in Michaeltree: New and Collected Poems (2000); Honorable Amendments (1995); and Healing Song for the Inner Ear (1985). A new poetry collection, Use Trouble, is forthcoming in fall 2008 from The University of Illinois Press.
His other collections include Images of Kin (1977), which won the Melville-Cane Award from the Poetry Society of America and was nominated for the National Book Award; Nightmare Begins Responsibility (1975); History Is Your Heartbeat (1971), which won the Black Academy of Arts and Letters Award for poetry; and Dear John, Dear Coltrane (1970), which was nominated for the National Book Award.
Harper edited the Collected Poems of Sterling A. Brown (1980); he is co-editor with Anthony Walton of The Vintage Book of African American Poetry (2000) and Every Shut Eye Ain’t Asleep: An Anthology of Poetry by African Americans Since 1945 (1994), and with Robert B. Stepto of Chant of Saints: A Gathering of Afro-American Literature, Art, and Scholarship (1979).
Harper was the first poet laureate of Rhode Island (1988-1993) and has received many other honors, including a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation and a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Award. Harper is also a Phi Beta Kappa scholar, an American Academy of Arts and Sciences fellow, and the recipient of numerous distinctions, including the Robert Hayden Poetry Award from the United Negro College Fund, the Melville-Cane Award, the Claiborne Pell Award for Excellence in the Arts, and the Black Academy of Arts and Letters Award.
The Poetry Society of America is a nonprofit organization devoted to fostering and promoting poetry in United States. For more information, visit www.poetrysociety.org/.