Presenter of the National Book Awards

The Book That Changed My Life

Richard Wilbur

Richard Wilbur won the 1957 National Book Award for Poetry for Things of this World and was a Finalist for Translation in 1972 for Moliere's the School for Wives and again in 1983 for Racine's Andromache.

When I was young, our family spent every Christmas season with my maternal grandparents in Baltimore, and every year I re-read the same three books - Lewis Carroll's two stories about Alice, and Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn. From the last I learned, over and over, that plain colloquial language is capable of subtlety and can lift into the lyrical. I later learned the same lesson from the poems of Robert Frost. Since I was going to be a writer, those realizations can be said to have changed my life.

Good wishes to you,

Richard Wilbur

Richard Wilbur (far right) pictured with (from left to right) George Kennan, Bergen Evans, and Wright Morris at the 1957 National Book Awards.