Different Hours and Winning the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry

     Stephen Dunn won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 2001 for his collection Different Hours. When explaining this collection of poems to Elizabeth Farnsworth of PBS, Dunn stated: 

Well, the book was composed in the years… the three or four years before I reached 60, and I guess I was sometimes consciously, probably more unconsciously aware that I was nearing the age that nobody in my family… no male in my family had ever reached. And I think that notion, that consciousness, colored a lot of the poems. I think because my parents died in their early 50s, mid 50s, I always thought I would die young. And that’s been both a useful thing and I suspect something that’s haunted me a little bit.

When I wrote the poem “Different Hours,” it seemed to collect a lot of poems around it. I think most poets work disparately unless you’re working on a sequence of some kind. And so I had many different poems. And then I wrote the title poem, and it seemed to make sense of a lot of other poems around it. And essentially, to be reductive, it started to take on the different hours of not only my life, but I hope that my life resonating into the life of others in this particular time, this juncture in history.

     This explanation highlights the very personal purpose of Different Hours.  Publisher's Weekly referred to Different Hours as Dunn's "sensitive 11th book that largely sticks to familiar territory: his short lyrics in conversational language address the difficulties and small victories of everyday life."  Dunn's experience, writing style, and work ethic are what led him to the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. 

     This exhibit showcases 3 poems in Different Hours as they are edited and revised in the drafting process.  

     Also included in this exhibit is history on the Pulitzer Prize.  Specific information about Stephen Dunn's Pulitzer Prize, such as the announcement, congratulatory letters, and reading appearances, can also be found in this exhibit.


Stephen Dunn reading “At the Smithville Methodist Church” as an overlay to the exhibition, Poems: A Retrospective. This exhibition at Stockton College was a manuscript exhibit on the Stephen Dunn's revision process, curated by Dr. Lisa Honaker.