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Sister Mariella Gable Series

2016 Winner: Susan Stewart

"Susan Stewart may be our best contemporary thinker on poetry. . . she writes criticism with the grace of a poet, and poetry with a strong logos underlying its lyrical surface. Both are haunted by a feel for our unknowable, primordial being, and this is no doubt what gives her work its abyssal power." Ange Mlinko | Los Angeles Review of Books

Susan Stewart is a poet and critic, Avalon Foundation Professor in the Humanities at Princeton University and former chancellor of the American Academy of Poets. She has published several collections of poetry, such as Yellow Stars and Ice (1981), The Hive (1987), The Forest (1995), Columbarium (2003), and Red Rover (2008), as well as books of criticism, including Poetry and the Fate of Senses (2001) and The Poet's Freedom: A Notebook on Making (2011). Her most recent collection Cinder: New and Selected Poems (2017) is this year's recipient of the Sister Mariella Gable Award. 

Poet, philosopher and critic

"It's always the moment of encounter - with natural object, with people, with works of art - that raises the subject-object problem and poses the question of what we can know." Randall Couch | Jacket2  Couch's review "On the art of Susan Stewart" perfectly introduces new readers to her work, both as a poet and as a critic. He suggests that the critical and creative aspects of her work function as two souls, in fact, nourished by her deep process of philosophical thinking. Her mysterious style has earned her admirers such as poets John Kinsella and Allen Grossmann.While her writing is introspective and philosophical, Stewart powerfully grabs the attention of the reader, and succeeds in convincing that, after all, poetry is easy.

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Art : criticism and collaborations

Stewart also has a deep interest in the arts: she collaborated with composer James Primosch (Dark the Star, Songs for Adam) as well as with visual artist Ann Hamilton (RECTO/VERSO) and with Italian painter Sandro Chia (Pittura e Poesia, exhibition held in 2009 in Capalbio, Italy). A collection of her essay on arts, titled The Open Studio: Essays in Art and Aesthetics, has been published in 2004.  


Stewart co-translated Euripides' Andromache with Wesley Smith. She has translated Italian authors such as Alda Merini, Patrizia Cavalli and the painter Scipione (both with Brunella Antomarini), Laudomia Bonanni (with Sara Teardo), and Milo de Angelis (with Patrizio Ceccagnoli).  Her works have been translated into Italian, Spanish, German, Japanese and Chinese. 

Includes titles by Claudia Rankine, Ru Freeman, Deborah Baker, Binyavanga Wainaina, Tiphanie Yanique, Ellen Bryant Voigt, Linda Gregg, Tracy K. Smith, Nurruddin Farah, Jane Kenyon, Clint McCown, Joe Coomer, Judith Kitchen, and Victoria Redel.Learn more about Past Winners

About the Award

Sister Mariella Gable's spirit inspires the College of Saint Benedict Literary Arts Institute serving the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University (LAI) and all of its programs. Dante scholar, poet, editor, writer, and champion of new fiction, the late Sister Mariella Gable was an outstanding English professor who taught at the College of Saint Benedict from 1928-1973. In the Spring of 1984, she produced an essay on the first fifty years of CSB history, "In League with the Future".

She guided many students into lives informed by literature and played an important role in the early careers of such writers as Flannery O'Connor, Betty Wahl, and J.F. Powers. An essay about Sister Mariella and her writings was written by Sister Nancy Hynes for the introduction to Mariella's book, The Literature of Spiritual Values and Catholic Fiction.

The Sister Mariella Gable Award is given each year by the College of Saint Benedict for an important work of literature published by Graywolf Press. Graywolf Press, described by Ploughshares magazine as, "arguably the best small press in the country," and LAI have formed an innovative collaboration to explore new ways of promoting the literary arts on campus, to audiences in the surrounding area, and in the Twin Cities.