Academy of American Poets' Walt Whitman Award Now the Most Valuable First-Book Publication Prize for Poetry in the United States

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Aug 04 2014

The Academy of American Poets is pleased to announce two changes to its distinguished Walt Whitman Award, making it the most valuable first-book award for poetry in the United States. In addition to a $5,000 cash prize, the winner of the 2015 award will now receive publication of his or her manuscript by Graywolf Press, an award-winning independent publisher, and an all-expenses-paid six-week residency at the Civitella Ranieri Center in Umbria, Italy. These new partnerships are part of the Academy’s ongoing efforts to support poets at all stages of their careers.

“The partnership with the Academy affirms Graywolf Press’s forty-year commitment to publish the work of important new poets,” said Graywolf Executive Editor Jeffrey Shotts. “It seems fitting to announce this collaboration thirty years after Graywolf published Christopher Gilbert’s Walt Whitman Award–winning Across the Mutual Landscape in 1984. We simply cannot wait to see what new marvels are ahead through the award and through our work with the Academy of American Poets.”

“Affiliated Fellowships have long been a tradition at Civitella Ranieri,” said Civitella Ranieri Director Dana Prescott. “We are confident that our new relationship with the Academy of American Poets will enrich our program, expand our reach of candidates, and enhance the profile of the Civitella community. This new affiliation will add to our history of outstanding poetry Fellows, and we look forward to welcoming future recipients of the Walt Whitman Award to our particularly magical corner of Italy.”

The Academy of American Poets will also purchase copies of the winning book for distribution to thousands of its members, and will feature the poet and his or her work in its magazine American Poets and on its website, Poets.org, which reaches millions of readers each year and is the largest publicly-funded website promoting poets and poetry. In addition, the winner will receive a trip to New York City to attend the American Poets Prizes ceremony at the Academy’s annual Poets Forum.

One of the country's most esteemed first book awards, the Walt Whitman Award was established by the Academy of American Poets in 1975 to encourage the work of emerging poets and to enable the publication of a poet’s first book. The annual award is one of the American Poets Prizes, a collection of seven major prizes given by the Academy of American Poets, and it is made possible by financial support from the organization's members. Other prizes include the $25,000 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, which is the most generous book-of-the-year prize in poetry; the $100,000 Wallace Stevens award for lifetime achievement; and the $25,000 Academy of American Poets Fellowship.

Submissions for the 2015 Walt Whitman Award will be accepted online between September 1 and November 1, 2014, and the recipient will be announced in April 2015, during National Poetry Month.

The judge of the 2015 Walt Whitman Award is Pulitzer Prize­–winning poet Tracy K. Smith.

For more information about the Walt Whitman Award and the American Poets Prizes, visit poets.org/academy-american-poets/prizes.

About the Academy of American Poets

Now in its eightieth year, the Academy of American Poets is the largest membership-based nonprofit organization fostering an appreciation for contemporary poetry and supporting American poets. The organization produces Poets.org, the world’s largest publicly-funded website for poets and poetry; National Poetry Month; American Poets magazine; and an annual series of poetry readings and special events. In addition, since its founding in 1934, the Academy has awarded more money to poets than any other organization through its American Poets Prizes.

About Civitella Ranieri Foundation

Located in a fifteenth century castle in the Umbrian region of Italy, Civitella Ranieri Center is a workplace for international writers, composers, and visual artists. Since 1995, Civitella has hosted more than six hundred Fellows and Director’s Guests.  In keeping with the spirit of its founder, Ursula Corning, and the tradition of hospitality and support for the arts that she established at the Castle, the Center enables its Fellows to pursue their work and to exchange ideas in a unique and inspiring setting.  For more information, visit civitella.org.

About Graywolf Press

Currently celebrating its fortieth anniversary, Graywolf Press is a leading independent, nonprofit publisher committed to the discovery and energetic publication of contemporary American and international literature. Graywolf champions outstanding writers of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry at all stages of their careers to ensure that diverse voices can be heard in a crowded marketplace. Recent books published by Graywolf have won the Pulitzer Prize, the Nobel Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the National Book Award, among others. For more information, visit graywolfpress.org.