Saint Mary's Brenda Hillman Wins Northern California Book Award for Poetry

Saint Mary's English Professor Brenda Hillman has been named the recipient of the 2014 Northern California Book Award for Poetry. Hillman was awarded the celebrated prize for her recent work Seasonal Works with Letters on Fire, the fourth and final collection of poems in her series on the elements, which was published in August 2013 by Wesleyan University Press.

Saint Marys English Professor Brenda Hillman with husband and former US Poet Laureate Robert Hass at the 33rd Northern California Book Awards ceremony.Hillman, who is the Olivia C. Filippi Professor of Poetry at Saint Mary's and the director of the College's MFA Program in Creative Writing, received her award on Sunday, April 27 in San Francisco’s Main Library at the 33rd annual Northern California Book Awards, which recognized the work of the region’s most outstanding authors from last year.

A panel of Northern California book reviewers and editors selected this year’s winners. Comments about the literary quality of her work, included “Hillman develops a kind of linguistic string theory where particles of language vibrate; where, like the strings of theoretical physics, they oscillate across the page through splitting and recombination: ‘then a poem is its own action, performing practical miracles’ (Ecopoetics Minifesto: A Draft for Angie).  The poems in Hillman’s book (full also of music and impish wordplay) are---to borrow some language from string theory---full of “probability amplitudes” and “path integration.” ---'Is poetry pointless? Maybe its points are moving, as in a fire.' (In High Desert Under The Drones)"

The 2014 Northern California Book Award is the latest of many literary honors bestowed on Hillman. In 2013 she was long-listed for the National Book Award for Poetry, received an Academy of American Poets Fellowship in 2012 and is the author of nine poetry collections, including Practical Water, which earned the Los Angeles Times Book Award for 2009, and Bright Existence, a 1993 Pulitzer Prize finalist.

Hillman was also named among the "Fifty Most Inspiring Authors in the World" by Poets and Writers in 2010 and she has received awards and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Poetry Society of America among others.

Since 1981, the Northern California Book Awards has honored the work of regional authors. Previous recipients include Kay Ryan, Michael Pollan, Al Young, Andrew Hoyem, Diane di Prima, Orville Schell, Philip Levine, Ronald Takaki, Francisco X. Alarcón, Carolyn Kizer, Ishmael Reed, Maxine Hong Kingston, Robert Hass, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Malcolm Margolin, Adrienne Rich, Wallace Stegner, Kay Boyle, William Everson, Alice Walker, Gary Snyder, Jessica Mitford, Tillie Olsen, M.F.K. Fisher, Robert Duncan, Nancy J. Peters, and Tamim Ansary. For more information visit


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