Poets John Ashbery and Fred Chappell yesterday were named the winners of the Bollingen Prize in Poetry of the Yale University Library.
Ashbery, 57, of New York, and Chappell, 48, of Greensboro, N.C., were honored for the body of their work and will each receive $2,500.
Ashbery, who is a professor of English at Brooklyn College, has written more than 15 volumes of poetry and has also worked as an editor, novelist and playwright, and is an art critic for Newsweek magazine. He has won the Yale Series of Younger Poets prize, the Pulitzer Prize for poetry and the National Book Award for poetry.
The selection committee said of Ashbery, ". . . if Ashbery's is a tragic vision, it is joyously, indeed ecstatically so, charged with the resonant energy of a new art."
Chappell has written eight books of poetry and is professor of English at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He has won the Roanoke-Chowan Poetry Prize of the North Carolina Literary Association and the Prix de Meilleur des Lettres Etrangers.
"Fred Chappell writes of the complexity and intimacy of daily life," the committee said, "an American middle-class life that is heightened with the definition and clarity of important vision without falsifying an essentially vernacular assertion of language."
This year's committee included poet and critic Annie Dillard, poet Richard Howard and literary critic Louis Rubin. The prize is given every two years to one or more poets. Since it was established in 1949, recipients have included Wallace Stevens, Marianne Moore, Archibald MacLeish, William Carlos Williams, e.e. cummings and Robert Frost.