Ellen Bryant Voigt WF ’64 named “Genius”

Ellen Bryant Voigt, a 1964 Woodrow Wilson Fellow, was named this week as a 2015 MacArthur Fellow, a “Genius Grant” recipient. The poet has published eight collections, each known for its lyrical and narrative elements and subject matter of life and the natural world. The MacArthur Foundation says of her work: “Through her mastery of line and rhythm, she celebrates the grandeur of the poetic form, while her imagery remains rooted in scenes of rural life and close observations of natural phenomena.“

Her latest work Headwaters (2013) abandons all punctuation and line structure, “a book of wisdom that refuses to be wise, a book of fresh beginnings by an American poet writing at the height of her powers,” says the publisher W.W. Norton & Company. Her collection of poetry Kyrie (1995) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and Shadow of Heaven (2002) was a finalist for the National Book Award. She served at the Poet Laureate of Vermont for four years and was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2003.

Voigt grew up on a farm in Virginia and has training as a pianist—both of which aided in crafting her style of poetry. She went on to graduate from Converse College and receive an M.F.A. from the University of Iowa. She spent time teaching at M.I.T. and Goddard College. In 1976, she developed and directed the nation’s first low-residency M.F.A. in Creative Writing program at Goddard. She currently teaches in the Warren Wilson College M.F.A. Program for writers and lives in Cabot, Vermont.

MacArthur Fellows receive a $625,000 no-strings-attached grant over a six-year period.


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