David Ferry of Massachusetts yesterday won the 2012 National Book Award in poetry for his book "Bewilderment: New Poems and Translations." A teacher at Suffolk University and professor emeritus at Wellesley College, he has written six books of poems and translated "Gilgamesh," the "Odes" and "Epistles" of Horace, and the "Eclogues" and "Georgics" of Virgil. He is at work on a translation of the "Aeneid."
“The fact of mortality and our consequent vulnerability has always been evident in my poems―as of course the poems of almost everybody else―though perhaps more persistently dwelt on by me,” Ferry told an interviewer for the National Book Foundation, which gives out the award. “In this book [Bewilderment], as in my earlier ones, I notice that there are many poems about people in creaturely distress, in poverty, in derangement, in disarrangement of various kinds, sometimes in the precariousness of happiness, baffled often, and, yes, bewildered. A number of such situations are in this new book, and, towards the end, the fact of an event of bereavement in my own life and that of my children, which gives a new urgency in this book to these questions, in the context of our creaturely mortal vulnerability which has always been the concern of my poems.”
This program aired on November 15, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.