Art-World Giants Give $40,000 Grants to Three Poets

Posted January 1, 2018 1:28 p.m. EST

The Foundation for Contemporary Arts, the organization founded by John Cage and Jasper Johns in the 1960s to fund new works by other artists, announced Monday that it would give $40,000 grants to three experimental poets.

Each award was endowed by visual artists like Ellsworth Kelly and his partner, Jack Shear, as well as the foundations of Cy Twombly and Roy Lichtenstein.

Painter Cecily Brown, one of the directors of the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, said in a statement that she was pleased “to make these awards in poetry, which is a perennially under-resourced field.”

The grant from Kelly — the C.D. Wright Award for Poetry, named for the former grant recipient who died in 2016 — was given to Canadian poet Lisa Robertson, who has lived in France since 2004. Writing about her book “Lisa Robertson’s Magenta Soul Whip” in The New York Times Book Review, Stephen Burt called her “hard to explain but easy to enjoy.”

Anne Boyer, the Missouri-based poet who has written frankly about gender, class and illness, has received the Cy Twombly Award for Poetry. Her recent books include “Garments Against Women” (2015), which critic Maureen N. McLane described in The New York Times Book Review as “a sad, beautiful, passionate book that registers the political economy of literature and of life itself.”

The inaugural Roy Lichtenstein Award, which in the future can go to an artist in any discipline, has been given to New York-based poet and critic Fred Moten. He has long been interested in black culture and the relationship between experimental art and insurgent social movements.

The winners were selected by the Foundation for Contemporary Arts board of directors, which in addition to Brown includes Johns and philanthropists like Agnes Gund, president emerita of the Museum of Modern Art.