MacArthur Grant Fellows/Vanthology – Poetry News Roundup October 9th

Today in our poetry news round-up, we look at the winners of the MacArthur Fellows Grant 2023, and the first ever “Vanthology”.

2023 MacArthur “Genius Grant” Fellows Announced

The names of the 20 individuals who are this year’s MacArthur “Genius Grant” fellows have been announced .Each of the fellows will receive a grant, which will be spread over five years, and will total $800,000. They can spend it as they want.

The fellows this year are a very diverse group and include a master hula dancer, a scientist whose interest lies in the airborne transmission of disease and the current US poet laureate, Ada Limon. The grant is a prestigious one and comes from the John D and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation. They are normally referred to as “genius grants”.

Potentials for the award are nominated and then endorsed by their peers in a process that can often take several years and is overseen by the foundation. They do not themselves apply for the honour and they are never interviewed as part of the process. The fellows only know that they have been chosen when they receive a phone call from the foundation, news which they often describe as stunning them. In some cases, they have been known to ignore the phone call as it comes from an unknown number.

Ada Limon missed the call from the foundation as it came the day after her 98 year old grandmother has passed away. She only got in touch with them when they emailed her. She described being given the news as feeling like it was in some way a gift from her grandmother.

As part of her work whilst she is the poet laureate, Limon has been commissioned to write a poetry anthology which will be published in April. She is also arranging for seven national parks to have historic poems installed on the premises and she has recently written a poem that NASA will be sending into space.

The MacArthur Foundation has been running the fellowship since 1981 and during that time they have selected a staggering 1030 recipients. The awards are given to those individuals who are “of outstanding talent to pursue their own creative, intellectual, and professional inclinations,” the grants themselves are not tied to any particular, project, institution or field.

Celebrating Life on the Road – An Anthology of Poems by Van Drivers

Poems have been used throughout the ages to express feelings for nature, love for fellow humans, in fact just about everything, but perhaps not so much for vans.

That’s all set to change with the publication of Poetry in Motion, the first ever anthology of poems by van drivers, inspired by life on the roads. The collection, or vanthology as it is being referred to, has been published by Mercedez-Benz vans with help from George the Poet.

A total of 200 poems were submitted for the anthology and 30 were selected for the final publication. The overall winners were named as Russell and Nikki Early, their prize was a new van. The winning poem was a tribute to the couples much loved, but run down van.

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