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Four students receive Wallace Stevens poetry prizes (Released: 4/1/96)

by Sherry Fisher, Office of University Communications.

STORRS, Conn. -- Four student poets have won the University of Connecticut's annual Wallace Stevens Poetry competition.

The prizes were presented April 1 by distinguished poet Carolyn Forche who also read from her work during the program at The Wallace Stevens Theater at the headquarters of ITT Hartford Insurance Group, Hartford Plaza. A second program took place April 2 in von der Mehden Recital Hall on the Storrs campus. The annual program is sponsored by the UConn Department of English with support from ITT Hartford.

The student poets were judged on a short collection of poetry, and winners were presented with cash and book awards. They read from their prize-winning poems during the program.

The first prize was presented to J. Brooks Truitt, a graduate student in English from Willington and Georgetown, Delaware. The second prize was presented to Michael Schiavo, an undergraduate from Southbury, and third prize was shared by Michael Gore of Groton, an undergraduate at UConn Avery Point, and Stephanie D. Tyburski, an undergraduate from Sprague.

The poetry program began at UConn in 1964 with a gift from the Hartford Insurance Group to support cash awards and books of poetry as prizes to aspiring young poets and to bring a distinguished poet to the University of Connecticut. Over the years, the program has brought to Storrs such poets as Robert Lowell, W.S. Merwin, June Jordan, Anne Sexton, Marianne Moore, James Merrill, Robert Bly, Allen Ginsberg, Derek Walcott, Seamus Heaney, Elizabeth Bishop and John Ashbery.

The program honors the memory of Stevens, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet who was an insurance executive at The Hartford for 38 years. Stevens died in 1955, three months after receiving the Pulitzer. In 1949 he won the Bollingen Prize, and he received two National Book Awards for volumes of poetry published in 1951 and 1955.

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