Creative writing PhD named one of country’s best young poets

Eryn Green received the 2013 Yale Series of Younger Poets Prize. Photo: Wayne Armstrong

Eryn Green got quite the send-off from the University of Denver’s creative-writing program.

Shortly before receiving his PhD in June, Green found out he had won the 2013 Yale Series of Younger Poets prize for his book “Eruv.” Green is now counted among a distinguished group of American poets who have received the prestigious award since 1919.

“Since I was a much younger writer, the Yale Series has always been the paragon of exciting new writing to me,” says Green, 29. “Poets that I absolutely admire, including [DU English Professor] Bin Ramke, have won this prize before me, and to be counted in their company is humbling and unbelievable.”

The award celebrates the most prominent new American poets by bringing their work to the attention of the larger public. Yale University Press will publish Green’s book in April 2014.

Unknowingly, Green began writing his book while pursuing his doctoral studies at DU.

“For a long time I didn’t realize I was writing the book that ended up becoming ‘Eruv,’” he says. “Poems that appear in the manuscript were written as recently as six months ago, and as long ago as three years. Almost all of the work in the book was written while at DU.”

Wilderness is a predominant theme throughout the collection, as attested by Carl Phillips, judge of the award competition. “Eruv,” he says, “reminds us how essential wilderness is to poetry — a wilderness in terms of how form and language both reinvent and get reinvented. Meanwhile, the sensibility behind these poems points to another wilderness, the one that equals thinking about and feeling the world — its hurts, its joys — deeply and unabashedly, as we pass through it.”

Green, who grew up in Park City, Utah, became interested in reading, writing and teaching poetry while attending the University of Utah. He says DU’s reputation as a bastion of adventurous, experimental and ethically minded poetry was well known to him during his MFA studies.

“Eleni Sikelianos, a professor in the DU creative writing program, was a visiting writer at Utah during my time there, and I was fortunate to have several conversations with her that convinced me the reputation was well-deserved,” Green says. “The opportunity to work with poets like Eleni and Bin Ramke, whom I have always admired, as well as fiction writers and literature professors whose work had long impressed me, sealed the deal.”

Green now hopes to become a full-time professor in a graduate program for creative writing. He also will tour in support of his book and continue to write.

“Poetry is not the exclusive property or province of poets, and everyone has access to the same inspiring universe that drives the creation of most poems,” Green says. “Everyone should feel free to read poetry, write it themselves, or simply live their days in a way that feels poetic to them.”

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