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Poet receives high praise from Pulitzer winner

MFA candidate wins Walt Whitman Award, book deal

A Master of Fine Arts candidate at the USC School of Cinematic Arts is the recipient of the Walt Whitman Award, the first book prize given by the Academy of American Poets and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Rae Armantrout.

“It’s an incredible honor and my wildest dream to have both the Academy of American Poets and Rae Armantrout choose my manuscript for publication,” said Hannah Sanghee Park. “I couldn’t ask for anything better and I’m deeply grateful.

“Despite being in a program that specializes in film and television writing,” she added, “the people here are very supportive of my poetry and how it translates to my screenwriting.”

As the winner of the Whitman Award, Park’s manuscript, The Same-Different, will be published by Louisiana State University Press in 2015, and the Academy of American Poets will purchase and distribute thousands of copies to its members. Park will also receive $5,000, a one-month residency at the Vermont Studio Center and promotion on Poets.org.

“The poems in The Same-Different, beginning with a set of gnomic sonnets, tell it slant, then slanter,” said Armantrout, one of the founding members of the West Coast group of Language poets. “They are so full of chiasmus, pun and near-rhyme that their figures twist back on themselves like strands of DNA or a staircase by Escher. They are mirror-bright. This book is a literally dazzling debut.”

This is not Hannah’s first accolade. She previously earned the Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship in 2013, as well as fellowships and grants from the Fulbright program, the Iowa Arts Council/National Endowment for the Arts, the MacDowell Colony and others. She had previously published a chapbook, Ode Days Ode (The Catenary Press, 2011) and holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers Workshop.

Still, she looks for new challenges in her work at USC, noting that “my peers continually amaze me by raising the bar. To see what they do in different modes spurs me to try and be a better writer in any genre.”

Established in 1975, the Academy of American Poets’ Walt Whitman Award is designed to encourage the work of emerging poets. Previous recipients include artists such as Nicole Cooley, Suji Kwock Kim, Eric Pankey, Matt Rasmussen and Alberto Ríos.

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