Work produced by two Minnesota arts groups was recently recognized with Pulitzer Prizes.
In the music category, the 2012 Pulitzer went to Silent Night, which was written by New Yorker Kevin Puts and commissioned by the Minnesota Opera; it premiered last November at the Ordway Center in St. Paul.
The Pulitzer Prize Board called Silent Night a "stirring opera that recounts the true story of a spontaneous cease-fire among Scottish, French, and Germans during World War I, displaying versatility of style and cutting straight to the heart."
Based on the story of the 1914 Christmas truce during World War I, Silent Night was conducted by Michael Christie, who is now the opera's music director, according to the Star Tribune. The Minnesota Opera reportedly spent about $1.5 million to produce it.
Meanwhile, the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in poetry was awarded to Life on Mars, written by New Yorker Tracy K. Smith and published by Minneapolis-based Graywolf Press.
The Pulitzer Prize Board described this work as "a collection of bold, skillful poems, taking readers into the universe and moving them to an authentic mix of joy and pain."
According to the Star Tribune, Life on Mars is a collection of poems about the stars and Smith's late father, an engineer on the Hubble space telescope.
"It changes everything for Tracy and for us," Jeffrey Shotts, who has edited Smith's three books at Graywolf, told the Star Tribune about the award. "It adds that recognition and shows how capable small, independent nonprofit presses can be."
The Pulitzers follow a strong year for both the Minnesota Opera and Graywolf Press. The Minnesota Opera is garnering national praise for its work, and several books published by Graywolf won national awards in 2011.
More than 2,500 entries are submitted each year to the Pulitzer Prize competition, and a maximum of 21 prizes are awarded-each of which comes with $10,000 cash; there are years when no prize is awarded in a specific category, which was the case for two categories this year (fiction and editorial writing).
In addition to the significant Minnesota connections to two Pulitzer Prize winners, two finalists also have strong ties to the state: How Long, written by Ron Padgett and published by Minneapolis' Coffee House Press, was a Pulitzer finalist in poetry-and Northfield writer Mara Hvistendahl's Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men was a Pulitzer finalist in nonfiction.
Click here to see a full list of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize winners.