[my thanks to Emily Lloyd for this list]
Despite my raging joy that Heather McHugh has won half a million dollars, I deplore prize giving of all kinds because of the implied value judgments, politics, social bias, cultural pressure, category exclusions, etc.
Below is a chronological list of poets who have won the MacArthur.
How many of these poets have you heard of? How many have you read? How many have taught you things you value? What do your answers say about your position in or out of the poetry mainstream? What poets are not on the list who would be on your list? What is your response to the enthronement of poets (or anyone) in this fashion?
I highly recommend Jed Rasula's The American Poetry Wax Museum for a fascinating contrarian view of the poetry policy makers of the 20th century.
Poets who have won the MacArthur:
Robert Penn Warren