David Rivard has been named winner of the 2017 PEN/New England Award for poetry for his 2016 book, “Standoff.” Rivard is a professor of English at UNH.
American poet Jericho Brown selected “Standoff” for the honor, which recognizes a book by a New England writer judged as best in its genre.
“I feel so deeply honored by this recognition from PEN/New England, touched really, especially when I think of the astonishing community and tradition it represents,” says Rivard. “Last year was, as always, a banner year for books by poets from this region, among them some by my dearest friends in this life — I can’t imagine having written the poems in ‘Standoff’ without their examples and affection in mind.”
Also recognized this year are Matthew Desmond in the nonfiction category for “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City” and Robin MacArthur in the fiction category for “Half Wild.”
The awards ceremony was held at the Kennedy Library in Boston, Mass., on April 2, 2017.
Rivard recalls: “As Jennifer Haigh said at the 2016 awards ceremony, ‘For as long as there’s been an America, New England has been home to writers. We are the land of John Updike and John Cheever, Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton, Frederick Douglass and Henry David Thoreau. To say a book is the best by a New England writer is saying a great deal indeed.’ It’s sort of amazing when you think about it that way.”
Past winners of PEN/New England awards include E.B. White, Louise Gluck, Sebastian Junger, Mary Oliver, Tracy Kidder, Donald Hall and Reginald Dwayne Betts.
PEN/New England awards, established in 1975, celebrate New England’s long and illustrious literary tradition by recognizing outstanding fiction, poetry and nonfiction by New England authors.
Rivard is the author of five other books of poetry: “Otherwise Elsewhere,” “Sugartown,” “Bewitched Playground,” “Wise Poison,” winner of the James Laughlin Prize from the Academy of American Poets and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award, and “Torque,” winner of the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize. He teaches poetry writing to undergraduates and to graduates in the M.F.A. in Writing program at UNH.