Home | Culture | This Day in History: February 19, 1949 – BOLLINGEN PRIZE DAY

This Day in History: February 19, 1949 – BOLLINGEN PRIZE DAY

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Thanks to the Bollingen Foundation and Yale University, starving poets have the opportunity to win thousands of dollars. The first Bollingen Prize in Poetry of US$5,000 (MOP 40,000) was awarded to Ezra Pound on this day in 1949. Mr. Pound (here pictured) was presented with the prize for his poetry collection, The Pisan Cantos. Unfortunately, this first award presentation by the Bollingen Foundation was filled with controversy. It seems that Ezra Pound, a talented poet, was also a pro-fascist, and had been charged with treason for broadcasting his political beliefs while in Italy during WWII. Pound was still given the award.
The Bollingen Prize was presented annually through 1963 when Robert Frost was the recipient, after which it became a biennial award. The $5,000 award was upped to $10,000 in 1989 when Edgar Bowers was the prize winner, and to $25,000 in 1995. The $25,000 award went to poet, Kenneth Koch.
Keep writing those odes, rhymes and stanzas. You may be the next winner of the Bollingen Prize in Poetry. And maybe, just maybe, the award will receive another cost-of-living adjustment.

Also on this day…
1878 - Thomas Alva Edison, famed inventor, patented a music player at his laboratory in Menlo Park, NJ. (This music device is the one we know as the phonograph.) Here’s the real skinny on the story: Edison paid his assistant $18 to make the device from a sketch Edison had drawn. Originally, Edison had set out to invent a telegraph repeater, but came up with the phonograph or, as he called it, the speaking machine. When asked why he invented the machine, Edison told  reporters, “How else am I gonna listen to my Dixie Chicks stuff?”

1981 - George Harrison was ordered to pay ABKCO Music the sum of $587,000 for “subconscious plagiarism” between his song, My Sweet Lord and the Chiffons early 1960s hit, He’s So Fine. Of all the riffs, chords, melodies, octaves and notes out there, George had to go and pick those in particular. What are the odds of that?

1984 - The XIV Winter Olympic Games ended at Sarajevo, Yugoslavia. The Soviet Union led all countries with 25 medals, the United States captured nine medals to tie for fifth place. Within the shadow of what was the Olympic Stadium, hundreds, maybe thousands, of Bosnians are now buried;

1985 - William Schroeder became the first artificial-heart patient to leave the confines of the hospital (where the historic operation was performed). He spent 15 minutes outside the Humana Hospital in Louisville, KY.

1473 - Nicolaus Copernicus (Mikolaj Kopernick)
Polish astronomer: the Copernican theory: the sun is the center of our universe; died May 24, 1543

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