Walt Whitman Award

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The Walt Whitman Award is a $5,000 first-book publication prize. The winning manuscript, chosen by an acclaimed poet, is published by Graywolf Press, a leading independent publisher committed to the discovery and energetic publication of contemporary American and international literature. The winner also receives an all-expenses-paid six-week residency at the Civitella Ranieri Center in the Umbrian region of Italy, and distribution of the winning book to thousands of Academy of American Poets members.

The award was established in 1975 to encourage the work of emerging poets and to enable the publication of a poet’s first book. It is made possible by financial support from the members of the Academy of American Poets.

Submissions are accepted from September 1 through November 1 each year. The judge for the 2019 Walt Whitman Award is Li-Young LeeSubmissions are currently closed.



previous winners

yearsort descending poet title
1975 Reg Saner Climbing into the Roots
1976 Laura Gilpin The Hocus-Pocus of the Universe
1977 Lauren Shakely Guilty Bystander
1978 Karen Snow Wonders
1979 David Bottoms Shooting Rats at the Bibb County Dump
1980 Jared Carter Work, for the Night Is Coming
1981 Alberto Ríos Whispering to Fool the Wind
1982 Anthony Petrosky Jurgis Petraskas
1983 Christopher Gilbert Across the Mutual Landscape
1984 Eric Pankey For the New Year
1985 Christianne Balk Bindweed
1986 Chris Llewellyn Fragments from the Fire
1987 Judith Baumel The Weight of Numbers
1988 April Bernard Blackbird Bye Bye
1989 Martha Hollander The Game of Statues
1990 Elaine Terranova The Cult of the Right Hand
1991 Greg Glazner From the Iron Chair
1992 Stephen Yenser The Fire in All Things
1993 Alison Hawthorne Deming Science and Other Poems
1994 Jan Richman Because the Brain Can Be Talked into Anything
1995 Nicole Cooley Resurrection
1996 Joshua Clover Madonna anno domini
1997 Barbara Ras Bite Every Sorrow
1998 Jan Heller Levi Once I Gazed at You in Wonder
1999 Judy Jordan Carolina Ghost Woods
2000 Ben Doller Radio, Radio
2001 John Canaday The Invisible World
2002 Suji Kwock Kim Notes from the Divided Country
2003 Tony Tost Invisible Bride
2004 Geri Doran Resin
2005 Mary Rose O'Reilley Half Wild
2006 Anne Pierson Wiese Floating City
2007 Sally Van Doren Sex at Noon Taxes
2008 Jonathan Thirkield The Waker's Corridor
2009 J. Michael Martinez Heredities
2010 Carl Adamshick Curses and Wishes
2011 Elana Bell Eyes, Stones
2012 Matt Rasmussen Black Aperture
2013 Chris Hosea Put Your Hands In
2014 Hannah Sanghee Park The Same-Different
2015 Sjohnna McCray Rapture
2016 Mai Der Vang Afterland
2017 Jenny Xie Eye Level
2018 Emily Skaja Brute
2019 Leah Naomi Green The More Extravagant Feast