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Princeton Creative Writing Faculty Read at Labyrinth Books
James Richardson, Tracy K. Smith and Susan Wheeler join 2012 Winners of the Leonard Milberg ’53 Secondary School Poetry Prize


Steve Runk    
Director of Communications
Lewis Center for the Arts

Three members of the Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Creative Writing faculty, James Richardson, Tracy K. Smith, and Susan Wheeler, will read on Thursday, September 27 at 5:30 p.m. at Labyrinth Bookstore, 122 Nassau Street in Princeton, along with four winners of the 2012 Leonard Milberg ’53 Secondary School Poetry Prize.  The reading is free and open to the public.

The Leonard Milberg ’53 Secondary School Poetry Prize is an international poetry competition for high school juniors.  Applicants submit up to three original poems they have written, which are then reviewed by a jury of faculty in the Program in Creative Writing with the sole criterion being the excellence of the work.  This year the program received nearly 600 submissions from all fifty states and international entries from countries such as Botswana, China, Dubai, Germany, France, India, and South Korea. The program is named for and supported by Princeton alumnus Leonard Milberg, Class of 1953.

“The work that these students present is quite remarkable,” notes Chang-rae Lee, Acting Director of the Program in Creative Writing.  “The jury had a difficult time selecting the winners from among the many excellent submissions.  It is wonderful to see so many students engaged in writing poetry.” 

First prize winners receive an award of $500, second prize is $250, and third prize is $100.  Two third-place winners were chosen this year. Seven more received Honorable Mentions.  Students reading are Hannah Srajer from Oak Park, IL; Kate Kulke from Wellesley, MA; Kathleen Cole from Mauldin, SC; and Anthony DeSantis from Greenville, SC.

Reading with the student winners are poet and Professor of English and Creative Writing James Richardson; recent Pulitzer Prize-winner and Assistant Professor of Creative Writing Tracy K. Smith; and poet, novelist and Director of the Program in Creative Writing Susan Wheeler.

James RichardsonRichardson’s books include By the Numbers: Poems and Aphorisms, which was a 2010 National Book Award finalist and a Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2010;  Interglacial: New and Selected Poems and Aphorisms, which was a finalist for the 2004 National Book Critics Circle Award; Vectors: Aphorisms and Ten Second Essays; How Things Are; A Suite for Lucretians; As If; Second Guesses; Reservations; and two critical studies.  He received the 2011 Jackson Poetry Prize, an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Robert H. Winner, Cecil Hemley and Emily Dickinson Awards of the Poetry Society of America.  Richardson has had recent poems and aphorisms published in Slate, The New Yorker, Paris Review, Poetry Daily, Harold Blooms’ American Religious Poems, David Lehman’s Great American Prose Poems: Poe to the Present, the 2010 Pushcart Prize Anthology, Gearys Guide to the World's Great Aphorists, and five recent editions of The Best American Poetry.

Tracy K. SmithSmith is the author of three books of poetry: Life on Mars, which received the 2012 Pulitzer Prize; Duende, recipient of the 2006 James Laughlin Award, and The Body's Question, which won the 2002 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. Smith is also the recipient of a 2004 Rona Jaffe Award and a 2005 Whiting Award. She was the Literature protégé in the 2009-2011 cycle of the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative.

Susan WheelerWheeler is the author of a novel, Record Palace, and five books of poetry, Bag ‘o’ Diamonds, Smokes, Source Codes, Ledger and Assorted Poems.  Her awards include the Witter Bynner Prize for Poetry from the American Academy of Arts & Letters, the Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America, and fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and the New York Foundation for the Arts.  Her work has appeared in eight editions of Best American Poetry, as well as in The Paris Review, New American Writing, Talisman, The New Yorker, and many other journals. She has taught previously at University of Iowa, NYU, Rutgers, Columbia University, and the New School.

Students, teachers and schools interested in the Leonard Milberg ’53 Secondary School Poetry Prize can find more information here. The Lewis Center’s Program in Theater offers a similar Ten-minute Play Contest.  Both programs accept contest submissions each year in late March.

The Lewis Center for the Arts is part of a major initiative announced by President Shirley M. Tilghman in 2006 to fully embrace the arts as an essential part of the educational experience for all who study and teach at Princeton University. The Lewis Center for the Arts will have a significant impact on the University and the larger community it serves. The public is welcomed to a full range of lectures, exhibitions, concerts and performances at the Center. Many of the Center’s events are free or charge a nominal admission fee.

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