I’m on the PEN mailing list, so I got this one hot off the presses last week: Eavan Boland, director of Stanford’s Creative Writing program and one of Ireland’s leading poets, has won a 2012 PEN award for creative nonfiction with her acclaimed collection of essays, A Journey with Two Maps: Becoming a Woman Poet, published last year by W.W. Norton.
PEN Center USA will fete three honorees and give 11 awards in particular genres at its annual awards festival on Oct. 22 in Beverly Hills. Grove/Atlantic Press publisher (and Stanford alum) Morgan Entrekin will receive the Award of Honor; Joyce Carol Oates will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award and CBS correspondent Lara Logan will receive the Freedom to Write Award.
In addition to Boland’s award for creative nonfiction, the other genre awards are given for poetry, fiction, research nonfiction, children’s literature, graphic literature, journalism, translation, drama, teleplay and screenplay.
“I’m really honored to get the award. And especially from PEN, which is an institution that does so much to advocate for writers,” said Boland.
Boland has published 10 volumes of poetry – most recently New Collected Poems (2008) and Domestic Violence (2007) and an earlier collected volume, An Origin Like Water: Collected Poems 1967-87 (1996). She has received the Lannan Award for Poetry and an American Ireland Fund Literary Award. She has published a previous volume of prose, Object Lessons: The Life of the Woman and the Poet in Our Time.
A Journey with Two Maps: Becoming a Woman Poet traces Boland’s own development as a poet, and also offers insights into the work of Sylvia Plath, Gwendolyn Brooks, Adrienne Rich, Elizabeth Bishop and the German poet Elizabeth Langässer.
Irish author Colm Tóibín named it a “favorite book” in the Irish Times last year, calling it “urgent and wise.” Britain’s Poetry Review called her “one of the finest and boldest poets of the last half century.”
Boland balances two worlds: free-spirited California and Ireland, a land of historical persecution and occupation, with its “painful memory of a poetry whose archive was its audience,” she said in an Academy of American Poets interview.
“I sought out American poetry because of that powerful, inclusive diversity,” she said. “I always remember I’m an Irish poet there, but at the same time some part of my sense of poetry feels very confirmed by the American achievement.”