Jump to content

Bollingen Prize

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Bollingen Prize for Poetry is a literary honor bestowed on an American poet. Every two years, the award recognizes a poet for best new volume of work or lifetime achievement. It is awarded without nominations or submissions by the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library of Yale University.[1]

Inception and controversy


The prize was established in 1948 by Paul Mellon, funded by a US $10,000 grant from the Bollingen Foundation to the Library of Congress. Both the prize and the foundation are named after the village of Bollingen, Switzerland and the Bollingen Tower, where Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung had his home.[2] The inaugural prize, chosen by a jury of Fellows in American Letters of the Library of Congress, was first awarded to Ezra Pound for his collection of poems The Pisan Cantos.

The choice of a work by a man who had been a committed fascist sympathizer and who was then under indictment for treason in World War II for his anti-Semitic broadcasts infuriated many. A bitter controversy ensued in the press, and a congressional committee requested the Library of Congress disassociate itself from the award.[3] The unused portion of the grant was returned to the Bollingen Foundation in 1949.[1][4][5]

Continuance through the Yale University Library


The Bollingen Foundation decided to continue the program with the administrative tasks being handled by the Yale University Library. The prize was awarded annually from 1948 to 1963. In 1963, the amount of the award was increased to $5,000. After 1963, it was given every other year. The Bollingen Foundation was dissolved in 1968, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation took over funding. In 1973, the Mellon Foundation established an endowment of $100,000 to enable the Yale Library to continue awarding the prize in perpetuity.[5]

In 1961, a similar prize was set up by the Bollingen Foundation for best translation. The prize for best translation was given out only from 1961-1968.[6] It was first won by Robert Fitzgerald for his translation of the Odyssey. It has also been won by Walter W. Arndt for his translation of Eugene Onegin, and in 1963 by Richard Wilbur and Mona Van Duyn jointly.



When awarded annually


See also





  1. ^ a b "About | The Bollingen Prize for Poetry". bollingen.yale.edu. Retrieved December 30, 2022.
  2. ^ "About | The Bollingen Prize for Poetry". bollingen.yale.edu. Retrieved September 26, 2023.
  3. ^ Britannica online.
  4. ^ McGuire, William (1982). Bollingen: An Adventure in Collecting the Past (Princeton University Press:Bollingen Series, New Jersey).
  5. ^ a b McGuire, William (1988). "Ezra Pound and Bollingen Prize controversy," in Poetry's Catbird Seat (the consultantship in poetry in the English language at the Library of Congress, 1937–1987) (Library of Congress, Washington, D. C.). ISBN 0-8444-0586-8 . Online version retrieved November 10, 2007.
  6. ^ "Bollingen Poetry Translation Prize - Oxford Reference". September 26, 2023. Archived from the original on September 26, 2023. Retrieved September 26, 2023.
  7. ^ "Mei-mei Berssenbrugge wins Yale's 2021 Bollingen Prize for Poetry | the Bollingen Prize for Poetry".