92. Rilke Prize

The University of North Texas announced its fourth Rilke Prize winner today. The Rilke Prize is named for the German poet, Rainier [sic] Maria Rilke, and the $10,000 award is unusual in that it’s not a beginner’s prize or a lifetime achievement award. It’s given to a mid-career poet for a book of exceptional quality.

Mark Wunderlich, who teaches at Bennington College, won the Rilke for his new book The Earth Avails. Earlier this year in Vermont for the Bookstock Literary Festival (video, below), he explained many of the poems were inspired by a 19th-century prayer book he found in his family home.

“I started reading it,” he said, “and I was very interested in the combined tone of praise, supplication and complaint. And I was quite moved by the occasions of them. Not being a believer myself, I still found the world that they called up to be a vivid one.”

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