Ed Ochester, 2006 Garrett Award Recipient

In addition to serving as editor of the Pitt Poetry Series, Ed Ochester was Director of the Writing Program at the University for all but three years from 1978 to 1998. He was twice elected President of AWP, and is the only individual to have served two nonconsecutive terms as a board member. Ochester is a member of the core faculty of the Bennington MFA Writing Seminars, and has been named a distinguished alumnus of the Department of English at the University of Wisconsin. Other academic honors include serving as the Jemison Visiting Professor in Humanities at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Visiting Distinguished Poet at Wichita State University.

Ochester has authored over fourteen poetry collections, including The Land of Cockaigne, Snow White Horses: Selected Poems, Cooking in Key West, Changing the Name to Ochester, Miracle Mile, and Dancing on the Edges of Knives. He is founding editor, and current co-editor along with Judy Vollmer, of the critically acclaimed literary magazine 5 AM.

I’ve been involved with AWP for a very long time, and of all the organizations I’ve belonged to, this is the one most dear to me,” said Ochester upon receiving the prize. “I think AWP is the organization that is most important for American poets and other writers, and because of that, this award is particularly meaningful.”

Ochester has obtained over thirty grants for the Pitt Poetry Series, from the National Endowment on the Arts, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the Academy of American poets, and other sources. Both of the literary prizes given annually by the University of Pittsburgh Press exist in part because of Ochester. He is the general editor of the prestigious $15,000 Drue Heinz Literature Prize for short fiction. He launched the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize in 1981.

The Garrett Award is just one of several recent accolades. In 2005, Ochester was the only writer in the top ten of the “Top 50 Creative Forces in Pittsburgh,” as listed by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. In 2001 he received the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s $15,000 Creative Achievement Award for an outstanding established artist.

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Each year, AWP welcomes nominations for the George Garrett Award for Outstanding Community Service in Literature. Consult our award guidelines for more information. Award recipients are selected by AWP's board of directors.