WMU News

Alumnus Anthony Butts earns prestigious writing award

April 22, 2004

KALAMAZOO--The Poetry Society of America has given its prestigious William Carlos Williams Award to Anthony Butts, a graduate of Western Michigan University's creative writing program, for a book published by WMU.

Now an assistant professor of creative writing at Carnegie Mellon University, Butts received the award for his book "Little Low Heaven," published by WMU's New Issues Press. PSA gives the award annually for the best book of poetry published by a small press, nonprofit or university press.

New Issues Press nominated "Little Low Heaven" for the PSA award, and according to Herbert Scott, director of New Issues Press and WMU professor of English, more than 100 books were nominated this year. This is the first time a nominee from New Issues Press has received the award, which is among poetry's most coveted.

"The talent present in the competition for the William Carlos Williams Award is absolutely first rate, and the Poetry Society of America represents the elite among the nation's poets," says Scott. "This is a great honor for Anthony Butts."

Butts will receive the award April 29 during a dinner ceremony in New York City.

For Butts, winning the award was made sweeter by the fact that this year's judge, Lucie Brock-Broido, is a poet whose work he greatly admires.

"She writes about things that matter. I feel a great deal of pride that she chose my poetry, because that's what I aspire to do: to write poetry that matters," Butts said in a news release from Carnegie Mellon.

A Detroit native, Butts earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in poetry and fiction writing and a master's degree in critical theory from WMU, both in 1995. "Little Low Heaven" is his second full-length book of poetry. He also is the author of "Fifth Season" and the chapbook "Evolution." In 2001, he was the recipient of an Ohio Arts Council Individual Artist Grant. In "Little Low Heaven," he addresses a variety of subjects, including life in the Midwest, the aftermath of sexual abuse and the desire to turn art into something that benefits humanity.

"I tried to make these themes universal and understandable to everyone. It's about what it means to be an outsider among outsiders," Butts said.

Butts received his undergraduate degree in English from Wayne State University in 1992 and earned a doctoral degree in poetry writing and the history of American poetry in 1999 from the University of Missouri-Columbia. He joined the faculty at Carnegie Mellon in 2001.

"Little Low Heaven" is available through Amazon.com, <www.amazon.com>, and through Small Press Distribution, <www.spdbooks.org>. For more information about New Issues Press, visit the Web at <www.wmich.edu/newissues>.

Media contact: Thom Myers, 269 387-8400, thom.myers@wmich.edu

WMU News
Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
269 387-8400