The Academy of American Poets Announces the Recipients of the 2017 American Poets Prizes

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Aug 21 2017
New York, NY (August 21, 2017)—The Academy of American Poets is pleased to announce the winners of the 2017 American Poets Prizes, which are among the most valuable poetry prizes in the United States. This year the organization has awarded over $200,000 to poets at various stages of their careers.

JORIE GRAHAM has received the WALLACE STEVENS AWARD, which is given annually to recognize outstanding and proven mastery in the art of poetry. Established in 1994, the award carries a stipend of $100,000. Recipients are nominated and elected by a majority vote of the Academy’s Board of Chancellors. Past winners of the prize have included John Ashbery, Yusef Komunyakaa, and Adrienne Rich.

Jorie Graham is the author of numerous poetry collections, most recently Fast: Poems (Ecco, 2017), From the New World: Poems 1976-2014 (Ecco, 2015), and Place: New Poems (Ecco, 2012). Her book The Dream of the Unified Field: Selected Poems 1974-1994 (Ecco, 1997) won the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Her honors include a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship, the Morton Dauwen Zabel Award from The American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, and a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship. She served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 1997 to 2003. She is currently the Boylston Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory at Harvard University.
 
About Jorie Graham, Academy of American Poets Chancellor Claudia Rankine said: “Jorie Graham’s masterful poems traverse almost four decades of inquiry into what it means to be in relation. Her work pulls forward our mythical, historical, environmental, and personal narratives in order to inhabit our most ordinary and collective experiences. Hers is the patience of the return; repetition in her work unearths the nuances of fundamental desires to live, to love, to be. Clear-eyed and with a scope that encompasses what is both known and unknown, her fifteen collections have built towards a brilliant insistence on presence.”
 
ED ROBERSON has received the ACADEMY OF AMERICAN POETS FELLOWSHIP. Established in 1936 and given in memory of James Ingram Merrill, this prize recognizes distinguished poetic achievement and carries with it a stipend of $25,000. Fellows are nominated and elected by a majority vote of the Academy’s Board of Chancellors. Past recipients include Gwendolyn Brooks, Robert Frost, and Ezra Pound.
 
Ed Roberson’s many poetry collections include To See the Earth Before the End of the World (Wesleyan University Press, 2010), The New Wing of the Labyrinth (Singing Horse Press, 2009), and City Eclogue (Atelos, 2006). He is the recipient of the Stephen Henderson Critics Award for Achievement in Literature, an LA Times Book Award, the 1998 National Poetry Series Award, and the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Writers’ Award. He is currently Artist-in-Residence at Northwestern University.
 
About Ed Roberson, Academy of American Poets Chancellor Brenda Hillman said: “Crossing the cosmos by large and small degrees, Ed Roberson’s brilliantly inventive poetry creates a grammar of its own, bringing together risky narratives, urban eclogues, fugue-like blues, and polysyntactic chants. His innovative forms have helped redefine experimental poetry in America in the last few decades. Roberson’s linked environmental sequences and long poems about the future of the planet become instant classics—and at times, sound warning notes—while he also asks intimate questions about social justice and about the capacities of the human heart in its myriad challenges. His sonic phrases record both city and rural landscapes; his dream natures recall Walt Whitman and Gwendolyn Brooks, brilliantly exploring over many decades the secret and public geographies of being fully human.”
 
PATRICK ROSAL’s book Brooklyn Antediluvian (Persea Books, 2016) has received the LENORE MARSHALL POETRY PRIZE. Awarded by the Academy of American Poets since 1994, this $25,000 prize recognizes the most outstanding book of poetry published in the United States in the previous year. Past recipients include Charles Wright, Patricia Smith, and Kevin Young. The judges were Rigoberto González, Vijay Seshadri, and Susan Wheeler.
 
Patrick Rosal is the author of Brooklyn Antediluvian (Persea Books, 2016), which was a finalist for the Kingsley Tufts Award for Poetry; Boneshepherds (Persea Books, 2011), My American Kundiman (Persea Books, 2006), and Uprock Headspin Scramble and Dive (Persea Books, 2003). He has received ellowships from the Fulbright Program, the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, and Lucas Arts. Rosal is currently Associate Professor of Creative Writing at Rutgers University-Camden's MFA program.
 
About Rosal’s winning book, judge Rigoberto González said: “Brooklyn Antediluvian sings as both lament and celebration: it connects histories, landscapes, and stories of times past to the joyous rhythms of the present. Nothing left behind is forgotten or lost, but so too will the sorrow and surprise of separation be woven into the narrative of a continuing hard-won journey. Rosal’s poems are energetic, curious, and attuned to the momentums of the never-ending search for community and home.”
 
SAM SAX’s book Bury It (Wesleyan University Press, 2018) has won the JAMES LAUGHLIN AWARD, which is given to recognize and support a second book of poetry forthcoming in the next calendar year. Offered since 1954 and endowed in 1995 by the Drue Heinz Trust, the annual award is named for the poet and publisher James Laughlin, founder of New Directions. The winning poet receives a cash prize of $5,000; a one-week residency at the Betsy Hotel in Miami; and the Academy of American Poets distributes copies of the book to thousands of its members. Past recipients include Donald Hall, Sharon Olds, and Vijay Seshadri. The judges were Tyehimba Jess, Ruth Ellen Kocher, and Jill McDonough.
 
sam sax is the author of Bury It (Wesleyan University Press, 2018) and Madness (Penguin Books, 2017). He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Lambda Literary, and The MacDowell Colony. He is currently the poetry editor at BOAAT Press. He lives in Brooklyn, NY. 
 
Judge Tyehimba Jess wrote about sax’s winning book: “Bury It, sam sax’s urgent, thriving excavation of desire, is lit with imagery and purpose that surprises and jolts at every turn. Exuberant, wild, tightly knotted mesmerisms of discovery inhabit each poem in this seethe of hunger and sacred toll of toil. A vitalizing and necessary book of poems that dig hard and lift luminously.”
 
PIOTR FLORCZYK’s Building the Barricade by Anna Świrszczyńska (Tavern Books, 2016) has won the HAROLD MORTON LANDON TRANSLATION AWARD. Founded in 1976, this $1,000 prize recognizes a published translation of poetry from any language into English that demonstrates literary excellence. This year’s judge was Marilyn Hacker.
 
Piotr Florczyk is the author of East & West: Poems (Lost Horse Press, 2016), the brief essay collection Los Angeles Sketchbook (Spuyten Duyvil, 2015), the chapbook Barefoot (Eyewear, 2015), and several volumes of Polish poetry translations, including Anna Świrszczyńska’s seminal poetry of witness volume, Building the Barricade (Tavern Books, 2016), with an introduction by Eavan Boland. He currently lives in Los Angeles, CA, where he is a doctoral candidate at the University of Southern California and serves as Translation Editor for The Los Angeles Review.
 
Judge Marilyn Hacker said of Florczyk’s winning translation: “In Building the Barricade by Anna Świrszczyńska written in the 1970s, the poet, born in 1909, recalled with astonishing and timeless accuracy her participation, with other women and men, boys and girls, in the Warsaw Uprising of 1944, a doomed popular armed resistance to the German invaders – the poet serving as a nurse in a field hospital at the heart of urban combat. The poems, though, do not center on the poet/nurse: each short text has its own implied longer story: the girl scout resistant; the family in the bombed building; the wounded soldier’s father; the mother hiding her baby, the adolescent combatants, and yes, the nurse, carrying bandages and bedpans, talking to the dying. I write “Warsaw” and could write “Gaza,” “Aleppo,” “Mosul.” Piotr Florczyk’s translations live as poems in English, brief, honed, resonant. Anna Świrszczyńska’s poems are themselves an act of resistance, refusing both romanticism and oblivion in their acts of witness that inscribe and transcend the events she chronicled.”
 
THOMAS E. PETERSON’s translation of the work of Italian poet Franco Fortini has won the RAIZISS/DE PALCHI FELLOWSHIP. Established in 1995, this $25,000 prize is given for the translation into English of a significant work of modern Italian poetry. The fellowship is given to enable an American translator to travel, study, or otherwise advance a significant work-in-progress. The winning translator also receives a five week residency at the American Academy in Rome. The judges were Maria Luisa Ardizzone, Antonello Borra, and Alessandro Carrera.
 
Thomas E. Peterson is the author of Petrarch's 'Fragmenta': The Narrative and Theological Unity of 'Rerum vulgarium fragmenta' (University of Toronto Press, 2016) and The Ethical Muse of Franco Fortini (University Press of Florida, 1997), the first major study of Fortini in English. He teaches at the University of Georgia.
 
Judge Antonello Borra wrote of Peterson’s winning translation: “Franco Fortini (1917-1994) was one of the most influential poets, intellectuals, translators, and essayists of his generation and yet his work remains largely unknown in the English speaking world. Thomas E. Peterson cleverly selects from Fortini’s definitive edition Tutte le poesie (Mondadori, 2014) and presents readers with faithful, elegant, and scholarly accurate translations that are poems in their own right. Fortini’s elegiac modes and his learned and politically charged vein are seamlessly rendered into English by Peterson’s touch and erudition.”
 
FRANCES REVEL has won the ALIKI PERROTI AND SETH FRANK MOST PROMISING YOUNG POET AWARD for her poem “Hymn for the End of Drought.” Established in 2013, the award recognizes a student poet with a cash prize of $1,000. The prize is open to winners, who are twenty-three years old or younger, of the current year’s University & College Poetry Prizes, also given by the Academy of American Poets. Submissions are judged by one of the past or current members of the Academy’s Board of Chancellors. This year’s judge was Arthur Sze.
 
Born in 1995, Frances Revel was raised in Southern Delaware until age 14, when she enrolled in a residential Vaganova ballet conservatory in Maine. She is currently pursuing her MFA at Cornell University, and is an editorial assistant for Bennington Review and Epoch. Revel was the recipient of Academy of American Poets University & College Poetry Prizes in 2016 and 2017.
 
About “Hymn for the End of Drought,” judge Arthur Sze said: “Open to mystery and myth, this poem exemplifies lyrical engagement of a high order. The taut, gorgeous stanzas, incorporating silence and sound—a silence that heightens tension while also giving the imagination space to envision—are compelling and exciting.  I so look forward to reading Frances Revel in the future.”
 
The Academy of American Poets sponsors over 200 annual UNIVERSITY & COLLEGE POETRY PRIZES, distributing close to $25,000 each year. Many of America’s most esteemed poets won their first recognition through this program, including Mark Doty, Louise Glück, Jorie Graham, Joy Harjo, Robert Hass, Li-Young Lee, Robert Pinsky, Sylvia Plath, and Mark Strand.
 
About the Academy of American Poets
 
The Academy of American Poets is the largest member-supported 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; the popular Poem-a-Day series; American Poets magazine; resources for K-12 educators; 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. For more information, visit Poets.org.