Kathy Bates assists in honoring poets

Campus Times
May 3, 2002

photo by Jennifer Contreras

Oscar-winning actress Kathy Bates was the guest presenter at the 10th Anniversary for the Kingsley Tuft Poetry Award at Claremont Graduate University on Friday. Bates presented two poets, Carl Phillips and Cate Marvin, with the prestigious Tuft Awards. Marvin, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis, received a cash prize of $100,000 for his body of poetry entitled "The Tether." Marvin, a Ph.D. candidate in English at the University of Cincinnati, was presented with the Kate Tufts Discovery Award, which included the cash prize of $10,000.

by Alexis Lahr
Staff Writer

The air at Claremont Graduate University was filled with the sounds of award-winning poetry Friday evening. A ceremony was held honoring poets Carl Phillips and Cate Marvin, winners of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry award and the Kate Tufts Discovery Award. The ceremony marked the ten-year anniversary of the awards.

Academy Award-winning actress Kathy Bates was a special presenter.

The $100,000 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award is the largest prize for a single book of poetry. It is given each year by Claremont Graduate University to a poet who is beyond the beginning stages of his or her career, but not yet at the pinnacle.

Phillips, who has been writing poetry for 14 years, is a professor of English and African and Afro-American studies at Washington University in St. Louis. He was awarded the prize for "The Tether," which is his fifth book of poetry.

"Writing is the thing I was made to do," he said. His next book, "Rock Harbor," is due to be published in fall 2002.

The Kate Tufts Discovery Award is also an annual award honoring a poet with $10,000 for his or her first book of poetry.

Cate Marvin received the award for her book "World's Tallest Disaster." Marvin holds two master's of fine arts degrees: one in poetry and one in fiction. She is currently working on her Ph.D. at the University of Cincinnati.

Both winners had the opportunity to read several of their poems to the audience.

Phillips and Marvin were selected by a panel of five judges, composed of a former Kingsley Tufts award winner, editors, authors, professors and former Poet Laureate of the United States.

Both Phillips and Marvin are accomplished poets and have earned several honors. Phillips has earned the Morse Poetry Prize, an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Academy of American Poets Prize, the Lambda Literary Award, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Library of Congress.

Marvin has earned scholarships to the Bread Loaf Conference and the Sewanee Writers' Conference.

She was the winner of the Kathryn A. Morton Prize in Poetry in 2000 and her poetry has been published in several notable publications.

The Tufts award winners are "an extraordinary group of people," said Robert Wrigley, chair of the Tufts awards and former Kingsley Tufts award winner.

Bates was chosen to present the awards because she has been actively involved in the arts and is a strong supporter of poetry.

"I'm here because I love words, spoken and written," Bates said.

President of Claremont Graduate University, Steadman Upham opened the ceremony by recognizing past winners, members of the judging panel and other distinguished guests.

President Emeritus, John Maguire, shared history about Kingsley and Kate Tufts and how the awards were established.

The late Kate Tufts founded the awards so talented and focused poets would have the resources to focus on their writing without worrying about bills.

Tufts funded the award by selling the house in which she was born.

Tufts asked that judges consider candidates who enhance poetry and its visibility, choose a poet that is not widely known so his or her career may be furthered, favor poetry that is accessible to all types of people and give consideration to work that is odd, different and quirky.

A daylong celebration of poetry was held prior to the awards ceremony. Past winners were invited back to participate in panel discussions and poetry readings.

A reception took place after the ceremony and the winners offered book signings.