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2007 George Rieveschl Jr. Award for Creative and/or Scholarly Works: John Drury

Those who can, do. John Drury can and does. He also teaches — and writes about it! And now he’s won the Rieveschl Award for his poetry works.

Date: 5/1/2007
By: Wendy Beckman
Phone: (513) 556-1826
Photos By: Lisa Ventre, Dottie Stover
UC ingot
John Drury.
John Drury has received the 2007 Rieveschl Award for Creative and/or Scholarly Works

Drury is the author of a chapbook of poems, The Stray Ghost; two books about poetry, Creating Poetry and The Poetry Dictionary; and two full-length poetry collections, The Disappearing Town and Burning the Aspern Papers. His poems have appeared in Poetry, Paris Review, American Poetry Review, Southern Review, The New Republic and other periodicals. Drury has won the Bernard F. Conners Prize in Poetry, two Ohio Arts Council grants, and an Ingram Merrill Foundation award.


Just like a poem itself, John Drury has many layers. He writes poetry. He writes about poetry. He teaches poetry — and evidently he’s pretty good at all three! Drury began teaching at the University of Cincinnati in 1985.

John Drury.
Drury enjoys teaching and writing, and has won awards for his teaching as well.

John Drury has received the “Dolly” Cohen Award for Distinguished Teaching and the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences’ Edith Alexander Award for Distinguished Teaching. Now he adds the Rieveschl Award for Creative and/or Scholarly Works in recognition of his poetry books, themselves, as well as his books about poetry.

Drury is delighted. “There's a lot of amazing work being published by my colleagues in the English Department alone, so I consider myself very lucky,” he says, “—and honored.”


John Drury.
Drury's popular book, The Poetry Dictionary, was recently revised.

The Poetry Dictionary, was published by Writers Digest Books in 1995 and recently revised. Douglas Hofstadter, in Le Ton beau de Marot: In Praise of the Music of Language, says, “Any poetry lover should own Drury’s unpretentious but richly informative book.”

Former UC colleague and poet Andrew Hudgins says, “The Poetry Dictionary is a wonderfully useful tool for poets, but it’s also loaded with terrific examples drawn widely and wisely from many languages, literatures, eras and traditions.”

Drury says that books inspire him, as well as teaching.

John Drury.
Drury says he has been inspired by writers such as Whitman, Stevens, Justice, Bishop, Wright and James.

“I go back to poets such as Walt Whitman, Wallace Stevens, Donald Justice, Elizabeth Bishop and James Wright. I also love Henry James,” he says. “Venice inspires me, too. I've led two study tours there and have made a couple of friends who teach at the University of Venice.”

In fact, one of Drury’s nuovi amici, Gregory Dowling, wrote a letter on his behalf for the Rieveschl Award. “He's also included me in a bilingual edition of contemporary English and American poems about Venice, and that book should be coming out soon,” Drury adds.

“John Drury’s two volumes of poetry are remarkable for their emotional range and their technical virtuosity,” says Dowling, an associate professor of American Literature at the Ca’ Foscari University of Venice. “I am particularly impressed by Drury’s ability to find new ways to recount a visitor’s impressions of the city.”

Another Layer

John Drury.
Drury attended Interrogation School for the U.S. Army and worked at a refugee camp near Nuremberg, Germany, in the 70s.

Drury’s third collection of poems, The Refugee Camp, won the Paris Review Prize in Poetry but was not published because the publisher, Zoo Press, went out of business. This sequence of poems is based on his 1971–1973 experiences at the West German Refugee Center near Nuremberg, where he worked undercover for the U.S. Army in an American liaison office. He is now starting to work on a memoir about the same part of his life.

“It’s about the peculiar three years when I served in the U.S. Army,” says Drury. “I had trouble getting out of basic training but enjoyed attending language school in Monterey, California, where I learned German. After two months at Interrogation School, I went to West Germany, where I worked in Munich and then at a refugee camp near Nuremberg.”


John Drury.
People outside UC will experience Drury's teaching and poetry at the Antioch Writers Workshop in July.

This summer, Drury will be sharing his insights with another audience. He will be giving the poetry lecture portion of the prestigious Antioch Writers’ Workshop in Yellow Springs, Ohio.



About the Rieveschl Award for Creative and/or Scholarly Works
Each year the Rieveschl Award for Creative and/or Scholarly Works is given to one member of the University of Cincinnati full-time faculty. This award, in the amount of $2000, was set up through the generosity of George Rieveschl (known as the creator of Benadryl) to recognize distinguished achievements of national and international acclaim in the areas of scholarly and/or creative work. The award is given for a particular work or for the sum of a faculty member’s accomplishments, with emphasis on work carried out at the University of Cincinnati.


About the University of Cincinnati
The University of Cincinnati, home to more than 35,000 students, offers students a balance of educational excellence and real-world experience. Since its founding in 1819, UC has been the source of many discoveries creating positive change for society, including the first antihistamine, co-op education, the first electronic organ, the Golden Gate Bridge designer and the oral polio vaccine. Each year, this urban, public, research university graduates 5,000 students, adding to more than 200,000 living alumni around the world. UC is the largest employer in the Cincinnati region, with an economic impact of more than $3 billion. The University of Cincinnati is located in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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