Professor Wins Prestigious Thomas Merton Award
March 22, 2004


(MACON)—Stephen Bluestone, a professor of English and film at Mercer University's College of Liberal Arts, has been awarded the 2004 Thomas Merton Prize for Poetry of the Sacred. His poem, "The Rug Maker," was selected from 810 entries submitted from 22 different countries.
The poem can be read by visiting the Thomas Merton Foundation Web site at It will appear in The Merton Seasonal, a publication of the International Thomas Merton Society.
Bluestone's Laughing Monkeys of Gravity, a collection of poems published by Mercer University Press in 1995, was nominated for the National Book Award in Poetry. He has won the The Greensboro Review Poetry Prize, two Hopwood prizes, and a prize in the Robert Warren competition, in addition to a National Endowment for the Humanities Award and a Pushcart Prize Special Mention.
In November 2002, "Holiness Everywhere," his free adaptation of a 12th Century work by Jehudah Halevi, set to music by Atlanta composer Curtis Bryant, was given a New York City premiere. "O City!" (a tribute to the victims of the 9/11 tragedy) was performed by the Gregg Smith Singers in New York City in February 2003. And in September 2003 the world premiere of "The Laughing Monkeys of Gravity," also set to music by composer Curtis Bryant, was performed in Fickling Hall on the Mercer University campus.
The Thomas Merton Award for Poetry of the Sacred was created in 1998 as a way of encouraging poetic excellence in a field which Merton himself played a leading role. Merton (1915-1968) was a Trappist monk at the Abbey of Gethsemani near Louisville, Ky. He was a widely respected poet and literary figure, and his best-selling autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain, has become a modern classic of spirituality. Merton's Collected Poems has been in print for more than three decades.
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