Centre College professor wins major literary prize

April 12, 2004

Lisa Williams, assistant professor of English at Centre College, has received a 2004 award in literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Williams won a prestigious Rome Fellowship in Literature. The annual award goes to emerging artists working in architecture, landscape, design, historic preservation and conservation, literature, musical composition, or visual arts.

The award provides a one-year residency at the American Academy in Rome, a center that sustains independent artistic pursuits and humanistic studies. Williams will return to her faculty position at Centre in the fall of 2005.

Williams is one of just two writers to receive the Rome Prize this year. Each writer in the running for the prize is nominated by a member of the Academy of Arts and Letters. This prize has gone to some of America's best-known authors, including Anthony Hecht, William Styron, Anne Sexton, A.R. Ammons, Harold Brodkey, Walter Clemons, Richard Wilbur, Ralph Ellison and John Ciardi.


"I couldn't be happier," said Williams, who will officially accept the prize May 19 in New York City.

"I'd actually been thinking of learning Italian to study some Italian poets that I've become very fond of in translation in the last year, Eugenio Montale and Cesare Pavese. This gives me a great opportunity to study the language, in addition to all the other benefits such a fellowship offers."

During her time in Rome, Williams plans on writing poems and revising others as well as writing essays and reviews. She looks forward to exploring Rome and meeting fellowship recipients from all the disciplines to share ideas and art.

Williams also is looking into the possibility of teaching a course on poetry and art to be held in Rome during Centre's January CentreTerm.

A native of Nashville, Tenn., Williams attended Belmont University and received her master of arts degree in literature from the University of Cincinnati, and her master of fine arts degree in creative writing-poetry from the University of Virginia.

Her book of poetry, "The Hammered Dulcimer," was published in 1998. Her poems have been published in Southeast Review, Poetry, New England Review, Raritan, The New Republic, and Virginia Quarterly Review. Williams has won an Academy of American Poets prize and a May Swenson Poetry award. She also received an Elliston Fellowship in Poetry and the Elliston Prize from the University of Cincinnati and a Henry Hoynes Fellowship in Poetry from the University of Virginia.

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