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April 11, 2000

Princeton professor wins Pulitzer Prize for poetry

Princeton, N.J. -- Poet C.K. Williams, a lecturer at Princeton University, has won the Pulitzer Prize for Repair, a collection of nearly 40 poems spanning such themes as love, memory, social disorder and the natural world.

Williams, a lecturer with the rank of professor who has been at Princeton for five years, teaches writing, poetry, and dramatic adaptation and translation. He wrote the poems in Repair over a period of two years, although some were begun long ago, he said.

"Without the Pulitzer Prize, C.K. Williams was one of the most distinguished poets of his generation -- I think one of the best two or three poets writing in America," said poet Paul Muldoon, director of Princeton’s creative writing program. "What’s nice is to see a general recognition of that."

Repair (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1999) is Williams’ 16th book of poetry. Some of the poems in the book tackle difficult, disturbing topics, including the Holocaust ("After Auschwitz" and race relations ("King").

Williams also edited collections of poetry and essays, and is the author of three works in translation. Misgivings, described as an "autobiographical meditation," has just been published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

In 1987, his book Flesh and Blood won the National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry. That book and The Vigil, published in 1996, were finalists for the Pulitzer Prize.

Among the other honors Williams has received for his work are the Guggenheim Fellowship, the PEN/Voelcker Career Achievement Award in Poetry and the Berlin Prize of the American Academy in Berlin. He recently received an award in literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Born in New Jersey in 1936, Williams received a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Pennsylvania. He splits his time between Princeton and Paris.

Princeton’s creative writing program includes other Pulitzer Prize winners, including Ferris Professor of Journalism John McPhee and poet Yusef Komunyakaa.