VCU professor named Pulitzer Prize finalist

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David Wojahn
David Wojahn

David Wojahn, professor of English and director of the creative writing program at Virginia Commonwealth University, was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for his collection, “Interrogation Palace: New and Selected Poems, 1982-2005,” a career-spanning volume published last year.

The 91st annual Pulitzer Prizes in Journalism, Letters, Drama and Music, which are awarded on the recommendation of the Pulitzer Prize Board, were announced Monday by Columbia University. The Pulitzer Prize for Poetry is awarded for a distinguished volume of original verse by an American author. Natasha Trethewey won the prize in poetry this year for her collection, “Native Guard.” In addition to Wojahn, Martin Espada was named a finalist for his book, “The Republic of Poetry.”

Wojahn said he was surprised and honored by the recognition, particularly considering that “Interrogation Palace” was selected from among the hundreds of books of poetry published in 2006.

“To have that sort of recognition from your peers means a lot, and it was especially gratifying that they recognized this book, which published both new work and a selection of poems from my previous six collections,” Wojahn said. “It was also gratifying to be in the company of Martin Espada, the other finalist, and Natasha Tretheway, the prize winner, since they're both writers I admire.”

Terry Oggel, Ph.D., chair of the Department of English at VCU, said Wojahn’s work was deserving of the Pulitzer accolade.

“This is an enormous honor,” Oggel said. “On behalf of the English department, congratulations to David, our friend and colleague, for being included in such highly select company and for this remarkable recognition of his great work.”

Wojahn’s other collections of poetry include “Spirit Cabinet,” “The Falling Hour,” “Late Empire,” “Mystery Train,” “Glassworks” and “Icehouse Lights.” He is also the author of “Strange Good Fortune,” a collection of essays on contemporary verse. Wojahn is the recipient of three Pushcart Prizes, the William Carlos Williams Book Award, the Society of Midland Authors Book Award and the George Kent Memorial Prize, among others.