Marie Ponsot, Award-winning Poet and Mentor to Generations
with Kevin O’Sullivan Dactyl Foundation’s Emerging Poet of the Year
MARIE PONSOT Native New Yorker Marie Ponsot was born in 1921. She has published numerous works, including Springing (Alfred A. Knopf, 2002); The Bird Catcher (1998), which won the National Book Critics Circle Award and was a finalist for the 1999 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize; The Green Dark (1988); Admit Impediment (1981); and True Minds (1957). When asked why poetry matters, Ponsot replied: “There’s a primitive need for language that works as an instrument of discovery and relief, that can make rich the cold places of our inner worlds with the memorable tunes and dreams poems hold for us.” Among her awards are a creative writing grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Frost medal, and the Shaughnessy Medal of the Modern Language Association.
In addition to translating many books from the French, Marie Ponsot has taught writing at Queens College, Beijing United University, the Poetry Center of the YMHA, Columbia University, and New York University. She currently teaches at The New School University in New York City.
KEVIN O’SULLIVAN Kevin O’Sullivan, Dactyl Foundation’s Emerging Poet of the Year 2008, has worked as a writer, teacher, entrepreneur, actuary, cryptographer, salesman, sailor, calligrapher, and draftsman; and along the way, completed a Masters in English and subsequent work toward the PhD at CUNY. As a graduate fellow, he met Marie Ponsot when they were both teaching at Queens College. No longer “distracted from poetry by earning a living,” he has just completed Marie Ponsot’s Poetry Thesis Workshop at the 92nd Y. He seeks out the strengths of contemporary poets, an example being Marie’s “felicity of expression as a function of ferocity of quest.”
Other examples include “the lexical exuberance of Richard Kenney and Saskia Hamilton; Byzantine yet matrix-perfect syntax of Jorrie Graham (even the anomalies enchant); revelations of relationship in Stephen Dunn and Marie Howe; the pop-right-out ordinary speech that dazzles in an Ashbery poem; the loaded, omen-laden terseness of both Kay Ryan and Charles Simic, and idea-round-ups in an Anne Carson, Paul Muldoon or Auggie Kleinzahler poem.”