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    Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize

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    Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, annual prize given by the Poetry Foundation—an independent literary organization and publisher—to an American poet for lifetime achievement. The prize, which comes with an award of $100,000, was established in 1986 by philanthropist Ruth Lilly. It is considered one of the most prestigious awards in the field of poetry and English-language literature.

    Lilly was the great-grandchild of pharmaceutical magnate Eli Lilly, founder of Eli Lilly and Company (1876). She endowed many organizations supporting education, medicine, and the arts and, in 2002, gave an endowment of approximately $200 million to the Modern Poetry Association (later the Poetry Foundation), publisher of Poetry magazine. Herself an aspiring poet, she had repeatedly attempted, unsuccessfully, to be published in the magazine. According to Lilly, the encouraging rejection letters she received over the years gave her enormous respect for the organization.

    The prize was awarded for the first time in the amount of $25,000 to Adrienne Rich in 1986, at that time reportedly the largest award given to poets in the United States. The amount has increased incrementally since then.

    The table provides a chronological list of Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize winners.

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    Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize
    year winners
    1986 Adrienne Rich
    1987 Philip Levine
    1988 Anthony Hecht
    1989 Mona Van Duyn
    1990 Hayden Carruth
    1991 David Wagoner
    1992 John Ashbery
    1993 Charles Wright
    1994 Donald Hall
    1995 A.R. Ammons
    1996 Gerald Stern
    1997 William Matthews
    1998 W.S. Merwin
    1999 Maxine Kumin
    2000 Carl Dennis
    2001 Yusef Komunyakaa
    2002 Lisel Mueller
    2003 Linda Pastan
    2004 Kay Ryan
    2005 C.K. Williams
    2006 Richard Wilbur
    2007 Lucille Clifton
    2008 Gary Snyder
    2009 Fanny Howe
    2010 Eleanor Ross Taylor
    2011 David Ferry
    2012 W.S. Di Piero
    2013 Marie Ponsot
    2014 Nathaniel Mackey
    2015 Alice Notley
    2016 Ed Roberson
    2017 Joy Harjo
    2018 Martín Espada
    Naomi Blumberg
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