The University of Iowa
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us

University of Iowa News Release

Feb. 16, 2005

UI Writers' Workshop Alum Ryan Wins Richest Poetry Prize

Poet Michael Ryan, an alumnus of the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, has been selected as the winner of the 2005 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, the largest cash award for a single book of poetry. The $100,000 award recognizes Ryan's 2004 volume, "New and Selected Poems."

The book collected 57 poems from Ryan's three previous volumes and added 31 previously unpublished poems.

Robert Wrigley, chair of the Tufts Award panel, commented, "Ryan's poems can make you laugh, give you chills and break your heart. His poetry is elegantly clear and impeccably made."

Ryan, who is an essayist as well as a poet, is on the faculty of the University of California, Irvine.

Ryan's first book of poems, "Threats Instead Of Trees," won the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award and was a National Book Award finalist in 1974. His second book, "In Winter," was a National Poetry Series selection in 1981 and his third book, "God Hunger," won the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize in 1990.

His poems and essays have appeared in the American Poetry Review, the Atlantic Monthly, Harper's, The Nation, Poetry, the Threepenny Review, The New Yorker and many other magazines and anthologies over the last thirty years.

In 1995 he published an autobiography, "Secret Life"; a memoir, "Baby B."; and a collection of essays about poetry and writing, "A Difficult Grace." Among many other distinctions for his work are a Whiting Writers' Award, National Endowment for the Arts and Guggenheim fellowships, and awards from the American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, Virginia Quarterly Review and the Poetry Society of America.

In addition to Wrigley, a former Tufts award winner, the panel included former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky; New Yorker poetry editor Alice Quinn; Carol Muske Dukes, professor of English and director of the doctoral program in literature and creative writing at the University of Southern California; and interim final judge Eugene Gloria, professor of English and creative writing at DePauw University. Preliminary judges were Barbara Ras, director of Trinity University Press; Derick Burleson, poet and professor in the Master of Fine Arts program at the University of Alaska; and poet Eugene Gloria.

Endowed by the late philanthropist Kate Frost Tufts, the annual award was named in honor of her husband, Kingsley Tufts, who produced a large body of poetry in the 1930s. After his death in 1991, Kate Tufts began making a reality of their shared vision for a poetry awards program.

The award will be presented at the 13th annual Kingsley Tufts Poetry Awards Ceremony at the Doheny Mansion on the campus of Mount St. Mary's College in Los Angeles on April 22.

The Writers' Workshop is an academic unit of the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit To receive UI arts news by e-mail,

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073,