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MFA student wins Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship

$15,000 Poetry Foundation scholarship among largest U.S. awards for an aspiring poet

Image by Rachel Eliza Griffiths via poetryfoundation.org.

Phillip B. Williams

Phillip B. Williams, a Master of Fine Arts candidate in creative writing in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, is one of five young poets awarded a $15,000 scholarship from the Poetry Foundation and Poetry magazine. 

The 2013 Ruth Lilly Fellowships, announced recently, are intended to encourage the further study and writing of poetry. The program is open to all U.S. poets between 21 and 31 years of age.

Williams, a Chancellor’s Graduate Fellow at WUSTL, was born in Chicago in 1986. He is the author of the chapbooks Bruised Gospels (Arts in Bloom Inc., 2011) and Burn (YesYes Books, 2013). 

“I sit down. I write. Or, I sit down and I stare at the page,” said Phillips in an interview with the Hunger Mountain arts website. “My process is one of jumping into it and waiting to see what happens. Usually if I am staring at the page for too long, I’ll scribble down images. Eventually connections will surface and I find myself following whatever paths become available.”

Williams is a Cave Canem graduate and the poetry editor of the online journal Vinyl Poetry. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Blackbird, Callaloo, Kenyon Review Online, Painted Bride Quarterly, The Southern Review and West Branch, among others. 

Poetry by Williams and the four other 2013 fellowship recipients will be featured in Poetry magazine’s November issue and on poetryfoundation.org

Other 2013 recipients are Harmony Holiday, Matthew Nienow, Hannah Sanghee Park and Natalie Shapero.

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Phillip B. Williams reads at YesYes Books and Sixth Finch Present! at the 2012 AWP Conference.


The Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship program is organized and administered by the Poetry Foundation in Chicago, publisher of Poetry magazine.

“Since Harriet Monroe’s founding of Poetry in 1912, to Ruth Lilly’s endowment of these fellowships in 1989, to our constant search for fresh new voices today, Poetry has always sought work that enlivens our sense of what poetry is worth and what it can do,” said Don Share, editor of Poetry magazine, in announcing the 2013 winners.

“This year’s group of fellows — which includes poets whose passions range from community service to woodworking to scholarship — is especially inspiring because their extraordinary talents are so deeply informed by the way in which they have composed their lives.”


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