The Academy of American Poets Announces the Recipients of the 2015 American Poets Prizes

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Sep 10 2015

New York, NY (September 10, 2015)—The Academy of American Poets is pleased to announce the winners of the 2015 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.

Joy Harjo 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.

Joy Harjo’s books of poetry include Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings (W. W. Norton, 2015); How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems (W. W. Norton, 2002); and The Woman Who Fell From the Sky (W. W. Norton, 1994), which received the Oklahoma Book Arts Award. She is also the author of a memoir, Crazy Brave (W. W. Norton, 2012), which won the 2013 PEN Center USA literary prize for creative nonfiction. Also a performer, Harjo has appeared on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam in venues across the United States and internationally. She is Professor of English and American Indian Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

About Joy Harjo, Academy of American Poets Chancellor Alicia Ostriker said: “Throughout her extraordinary career as poet, storyteller, musician, memoirist, playwright and activist, Joy Harjo has worked to expand our American language, culture, and soul. A Creek Indian and student of First Nation history, Harjo is rooted simultaneously in the natural world, in earth—especially the landscape of the American Southwest—and in the spirit world. Aided by these redemptive forces of nature and spirit, incorporating native traditions of prayer and myth into a powerfully contemporary idiom, her visionary justice-seeking art transforms personal and collective bitterness to beauty, fragmentation to wholeness, and trauma to healing.”

Marie Howe 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.

Marie Howe’s collections of poetry include The Kingdom of Ordinary Time (W. W. Norton, 2009), which was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; What the Living Do (1998); and The Good Thief (Persea, 1988), which was selected by Margaret Atwood for the 1987 National Poetry Series. Her other honors include grants from the Bunting Institute, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Howe teaches at Sarah Lawrence College, New York University, and Columbia University. She lives in New York City.

About Marie Howe, Academy of American Poets Chancellor Arthur Sze said: “Marie Howe’s poems are remarkable for their focused, intense, and haunting lyricism. Her poems characteristically unfold through a series of luminous particulars that gather emotional power as they delve into the complexities of the human heart. Her poems are acclaimed for writing through loss with verve, but they also find the miraculous in the ordinary and transform quotidian incidents into enduring revelation.”

Kevin Young’s poetry collection Book of Hours (Alfred A. Knopf, 2014) 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 Wanda Coleman, Mark Jarman, and Stanley Kunitz. The judges were Marie Howe, A. Van Jordan, and Donald Revell.

Kevin Young’s most recent collection of poems is Book of Hours (Alfred A. Knopf, 2014)a finalist for the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. His book The Grey Album: On the Blackness of Blackness won the Graywolf Nonfiction Prize, the PEN Open Award and was a New York Times Notable Book for 2012 and a finalist for the 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism. Young’s other honors include a Stegner Fellowship in Poetry at Stanford University, as well as fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the MacDowell Colony, and the National Endowment for the Arts. He is Charles Howard Candler Professor of Creative Writing and English and curator of Literary Collections and the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library at Emory University.

“As if walking through a gallery of grief, reverie, and transcendence, Kevin Young’s Book of Hours exemplifies what poetry can do in the world when language works at its full power,” said judge A. Van Jordan. “The poems in this collection hold emotion taut on each line while allowing for the nimbleness of language to drape over them, bringing tension between the heart and the mind, as Young consistently surprises us with profound elegance.”

Kathryn Nuernberger’s book The End of Pink (BOA Editions, 2016) has won the JAMES LAUGHLIN AWARD, which recognizes a superior second book of poetry by an American poet. 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 Francisco X. Alarcón, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, and D. Nurkse.

Kathryn Nuernberger is the author of The End of Pink, which is forthcoming from BOA Editions in 2016 and Rag & Bone (Elixir Press, 2011), which received the Antivenom Poetry Award from Elixir Press. Her work has appeared widely in journals, including 32 Poems, Green Mountains Review, Cincinnati Review, Indiana Review, Ninth Letter, Prairie Schooner, West Branch, Willow Springs and Verse Daily. Her honors include fellowships from The American Antiquarian Society and The Bakken Museum. Nuernberger teaches creative writing at the University of Central Missouri, where she also serves as the Director of Pleiades Press. She lives in Columbia, Missouri.

About The End of Pink, judge Aimee Nezhukumatathil said: “The remarkable designs of a landscape created by Kathryn Nuernberger give us such a stamp of hoof, wonder, and wit—so much wisdom and understanding of what it means to truly fling your body into the world. This is an unforgettable collection of sly-sexy poems of desire, grief, and motherhood, finally offering up the ‘truth of it, the refracted light and blooming anemones of it, the red/ coral and unfurling starfish of it.’”

Roger Greenwald’s Guarding the Air: Selected Poems of Gunnar Harding (Black Widow Press, 2014) 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 Bill Johnston.

Roger Greenwald is the author of two books of poems: Slow Mountain Train (Tiger Bark Press, 2015) and Connecting Flight (Williams-Wallace, 1993). Greenwald has translated numerous books of poetry, most recently Guarding the Air: Selected Poems of Gunnar Harding (Black Widow Press, 2014) and Meditations on Georges de La Tour, by Paal-Helge Haugen (BookThug, 2013). He has also translated two novels from the Swedish. His honors include Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Literary Awards for poetry and travel literature and two National Endowment for the Arts Translation Fellowships. He lives in Toronto.

Judge Bill Johnston said of Roger Greenwald’s winning translation: “Roger Greenwald’s rendering of the selected poems of Swedish poet Gunnar Harding, is an accomplishment to be relished by any reader, and envied by any literary translator. Greenwald’s translations are superb. They read like what they are—magnificent poems in the English language. The freshness of imagery and turn of phrase are never accompanied by the awkwardness that so often marks poetry in translation—rather, they arise from the originality of the poet’s voice, which Greenwald has brilliantly captured in English.”

Todd Portnowitz has won the 2015 RAIZISS/DE PALCHI FELLOWSHIP for his translation of Pierluigi Cappello’s Go Tell It to the Emperor: Selected Poems. Established in 1995, this prize recognizes outstanding translations of modern Italian poetry into English through an award of $25,000 and a five-week residency at the American Academy in Rome. The judges were Adria Bernardi, Luigi Fontanella, and Giuseppe Leporace.

Todd Portnowitz is the translator of two novels with the Italian publisher Mondadori. His poetry, essays, and poetry translations from and into Italian have appeared widely in literary reviews and journals, including PoesiaLe parole e le cose, PN Review, AGNI, Asymptote, Guernica, Virginia Quarterly Review, and Southwest Review. His honors include scholarships from the New York State Summer Writers Institute and the Bread Loaf Translators’ Conference. An editor with Sheep Meadow Press, he is also a cofounder and editor of the Italian poetry blog Formavera. He lives and works in New York City.

Judge Giuseppe Leporace said of Todd Portnowitz’s winning translation: “The poetic word of Pierluigi Cappello is choreographed by images not seen or observed, but rather understood: images which accompany and show a world for what it is. ‘Mandate a dire all’imperatore,’ more than any other work by Cappello, is the manifest of the tools employed as well as the mastery accomplished by the author in his poetic quest. Because of the unique creative process employed by the poet, the translation of this work would be an extraordinary challenge for any expert translator; and Todd Portnowitz, in his tireless and remarkably refined effort, has brilliantly grasped and then seamlessly transposed into English all the imagery and linguistic complexities contained in the work at hand.”

Blake N. Campbell has won the ALIKI PERROTI AND SETH FRANK MOST PROMISING YOUNG POET AWARD for his poem “Bioluminescence.” 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 Linda Gregerson.

Blake N. Campbell was born in 1993 and grew up in northeastern Pennsylvania. He graduated summa cum laude from Emerson College in 2015 with a BA in writing, literature, and publishing. Campbell’s interview with poet and scholar Christopher Hennessy was published in the Lambda Literary Review. He lives in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts.

About “Bioluminescence,” Linda Gregerson said: “Wedded to the demanding specificities of the natural world, this poem is also wonderfully open to the transformative powers of devout attentiveness. Its technical mastery—the supple deployment of those couplets—is a fine extension of the sympathetic imagination in which it is grounded.”

University & College Poetry Prizes

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, 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