2020 UNT Rilke Prize | Department of English
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February 6, 2020

2020 UNT Rilke Prize

The UNT Rilke Prize events on April 1-2, 2020 have been cancelled.

2020 UNT Rilke Prize

Kathleen Graber

The River Twice

Kathleen Graber's The River Twice (Princeton University Press) has won the 2020 UNT Rilke Prize. The $10,000 prize recognizes a book written by a mid-career poet and published in the preceding year that demonstrates exceptional artistry and vision. Graber will visit UNT for a reception on Wednesday, April 1, 2020 and a reading on Thursday, April 2, 2020.

In The River Twice, Kathleen Graber offers a profoundly moving and philosophical exploration of history, both personal and cultural, as embedded in words and thereby evocative of distances that can never be closed. While the title's recollection of Heraclitus voices the ephemerality of all things, the phrase "river twice" likewise accentuates a desire to revisit the past, to double back, in light and in spite of a measure of inaccessibility. Such want emerges as critical and problematic to the forging of community and the mending of fracture. Wonder appears less at odds with engagement in our moment than as a mode of invitation. Like the pigeons in her book, those who wound themselves to feed their young, Graber's poems do not abandon the difficult world. The poet's voice, so often juxtaposed against the abject, feels called, summoned to the kind of "beauty we expect from what's broken."

Kathleen Graber is a poet and educator. She is the author of two previous collections of poems, Correspondence (Saturnalia Books, 2006) and The Eternal City (Princeton University Press, 2010), which was a finalist for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award and was the winner of the Library of Virginia Literary Award for Poetry. She was raised in southern New Jersey, where her parents operated games of chance on the Wildwood boardwalk. After earning a B.A. in Philosophy from Hofstra University, she returned to her hometown to teach in the public school system there and to operate a seasonal independent music store. She did not become seriously interested in writing and studying poetry until the age of forty. She holds an M.F.A. in creative writing from New York University and has been the recipient of numerous fellowships, including awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She now lives in Powhatan, Virginia and is a professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University.

The judges also selected three finalists for this year's UNT Rilke Prize: Rebecca Dunham's Strike (New Issues), Henry Israeli's Our Age of Anxiety (White Pine Press), and Connie Voisine's The Bower (University of Chicago Press).

For more information about the UNT Rilke Prize visit: http://english.unt.edu/creative-writing/unt-rilke-prize