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Hilles Honored With Major Literary Award

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hilles-rickPoet Rick Hilles, assistant professor of English, received a 2008 Whiting Writers’  Award from the New York-based Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation. The prestigious awards are presented to “writers of exceptional talent and promise in early career.”

Hilles, author of the award-winning poetry collection Brother Salvage, teaches poetry as part of the English department’s master of fine arts program in creative writing. His poems have appeared in Harper’s, The Nation, New Republic, Poetry and Salmagundi.

“It means a great deal to me—more than I can adequately say—and I hope that this sense of gratitude and encouragement will stay with me for a long, long time,” Hilles says. 

“Rick’s poetry moves and inspires readers, and he does the same in the classroom,” says Jay Clayton, William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of English and chair of the department. “There hasn’t been a better time for creative writing at Vanderbilt since the days of the Fugitive poets.”

It takes a kind of courage, sometimes, just to say it. Whole days spent otherwise have proven this to me. Step forward, and the wind braces you on all sides.

from “Flashlight Stories” by Rick Hilles

 Whiting Writers’ Awards candidates are proposed by a select group of anonymous nominators nationwide whose experience and vocations expose them to individuals of extraordinary talent. Winners are chosen by a different anonymous selection committee of recognized writers, literary scholars and editors appointed annually by the foundation. The Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation has awarded more than $6 million to 240 writers in fiction, nonfiction, poetry and drama since its inception in 1963.


(Excerpted from “Flashlight Stories” in Brother Savage by Rick Hilles, ©2006. Reprinted by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press.)

photo credit: Daniel Dubois

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