Jury chair Robert Creeley writes of Mr. Mac Low's poetry:
"Jackson Mac Low is a poet of great heart and abiding faith. His poetry has long been recognized as the most defining of American experimentalism, both with respect to text and to performance. It is the genius of his art to make poetry again enactment, to make its materials--words and syntax, and all the human echoes each must carry--a resonating, perceptive pattern reaching far beyond the enclosure of imagined subjects or intent. Patient, enduring, selfless, he has made substance of our language in ways that reveal its own initiating authority, proving its sounds a song, its progress a transforming revelation.
Commenting on the jury process of this year's Tanning Prize, Creeley reports,
The poets our jury considered were a significant range from all character of background and practice, professional commitment and cultural circumstance. It is the great virtue of our country's poetry that it is plural, poetries, rather than an abiding, singular hierarchy or one settled condition of practice. In awarding the prize to Jackson Mac Low, we sought to honor not only a great master of the art in its most inventive and resourceful character, but to recall also that American poetry itself defines such a tradition as he exemplifies, fosters insistently the experimental, seeks always to expand the parameters of its activity and relationships.
Jackson Mac Low was born in Chicago in 1922. He is a poet and composer and a writer of performance pieces, essays, plays, and radio works. He is also a painter and multimedia performance artist (often with his wife, Anne Tardos). Author of twenty-six books, his works have been published in many anthologies and periodicals and read publicly, exhibited, performed, and broadcast in North America, Europe, and New Zealand. Mac Low's recent publications include the books Bloomsday (1984), French Sonnets (1984, second ed. 1989), The Virginia Woolf Poems (1985), Eight Drawing-Asymmetries (1985), Representative Works: 1938-1985 (1986), Words and Ends from Ez (1989), Twenties: 100 Poems (1991), Pieces o' Six: Thirty-Three Poems in Prose (1992), 42 Merzgedichte in Memoriam Kurt Schwitters (1994), and Barnesbook (1995) and the compact disc (with Anne Tardos and seven instrumentalists) Open Secrets (1993). Mac Low has taught at many schools, notably the Naropa Institute, Schule für Dichtung in Vienna, Bard College, and Brown University. His previous awards include fellowships and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, CAPS (New York State), PEN, the Guggenheim Foundation and the New York Foundations for the Arts.
The Tanning Prize was established in August 1994 by a gift of $2 million to the Academy from the painter Dorothea Tanning. The previous recipients of the award are W. S. Merwin, James Tate, Adrienne Rich, and A.R. Ammons.