New York, NY (August 28, 2018)—The Academy of American Poets is pleased to announce the winners of the 2018 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.
SONIA SANCHEZ 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.
Poet, playwright, and children’s book author Sonia Sanchez has published more than a dozen poetry collections, including Morning Haiku (Beacon Press, 2010) and Shake Loose My Skin: New and Selected Poems (Beacon Press, 1999). Her many honors include the 2009 Robert Creeley Award, the Frost Medal, the Pennsylvania Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Humanities, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. Sanchez lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
About Sanchez, Academy of American Poets Chancellor Terrance Hayes
said: “The formal virtuosity Sonia Sanchez has honed across five decades of poetry collections is tenaciously rooted in the transforming social power of art. Her life and poems reflect a steadfast devotion to humanity, a love for womanhood, black culture, and education. Her poems display a masterful fusion of political and spiritual urgencies. They spring from her like songs, prayers, and spells displaying uncompromising artfulness and consciousness. In some West African cultures the griot is protector of memory and culture, part oracle, part archivist. Sonia Sanchez is our peerless griot of American poetry. There is no poet like her in the whole motley canon. There may have never been a more appropriate recipient of an award honoring poetic mastery and originality.”
Poet, essayist, and translator Martín Espada has authored nearly twenty books, including his most recent poetry collection, Vivas to Those Who Have Failed (W. W. Norton, 2016). Espada’s many honors include the 2018 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the 2013 Shelley Memorial Award, the Robert Creeley Award, an American Book Award, the PEN/Revson Fellowship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Espada teaches English at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
About Martín Espada, Academy of American Poets Chancellor Alicia Ostriker
said: “Martín Espada is a poet of musical richness, passion, high and low comedy, imagistic vibrance, wild metaphor, and storytelling skill, with a sense of history. He is a celebrant of love and a persistent troubler of the waters. As a ‘people’s poet’ he has been called North America’s Neruda. In a career spanning more than three decades, he has advocated for and enacted an ideal of poetry knit up with the dream of justice. Eloquent in his homage to those whose names and faces are ‘rubbed off by oblivion’s thumb like a Roman coin,’ laureate of ballparks and boxing rings, exuberant chronicler of immigrant lives and workers’ strikes, moving elegist of his feisty Puerto Rican father and of the restaurant employees fallen in the Twin Towers, Martín Espada is an essential American poet and true son of Walt Whitman.”
Craig Morgan Teicher is the author of three poetry collections, including To Keep Love Blurry (BOA Editions, 2012) and Brenda Is in the Room and Other Poems (Center for Literary Publishing, 2008), winner of the Colorado Prize for Poetry. His first collection of essays, We Begin in Gladness: How Poets Progress, is forthcoming from Graywolf Press in November 2018. He lives in New Jersey.
About Teicher’s winning book, judges Laura Kasischke
, Campbell McGrath
, and Mary Szybist
said: “The Trembling Answers
is a collection as ecstatic as it is solemn, and what this poetry shares with us about love, faith, doubt, and poetry itself is essential. From a state of bewilderment to the condition of omniscience, Craig Morgan Teicher’s poetry stands simultaneously inside and outside of common understanding, struggling to un-domesticate the mind even as it seeks to more deeply inhabit the intimacies of domestic life. This is a book of unflinching self-scrutiny, by turns meditative, plainspoken, funny, and profound, where answers are not stable solutions but achingly alert responses to the trauma and triumph of human existence.”
’s book Night Angler
(BOA Editions, 2019) 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 and a one-week residency at the Betsy Hotel
in Miami; the Academy of American Poets also distributes copies of the book to thousands of its members. Past recipients include Donald Hall
, Sharon Olds
, and Vijay Seshadri
. The judges were Patricia Spears Jones
, Craig Santos Perez
, and Prageeta Sharma
Geffrey Davis is the author of Revising the Storm (BOA Editions, 2014), winner of the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize. Davis is the recipient of fellowships from Bread Loaf, Cave Canem, and the Vermont Studio Center. He teaches in the University of Arkansas’ MFA program and The Rainier Writing Workshop and serves as poetry editor for Iron Horse Literary Review.
Judge Craig Santos Perez wrote about Davis’s winning book: “The hooked lines of Night Angler fish in the headwaters of memory and the riverine flow of the present. What we catch are poems about coming to terms with a drug-addicted father, coming of age as a ‘black boy’ in America, and coming through the ‘wilderness of worry’ as a husband and new parent amid racial violence and environmental injustice. Throughout, the poet displays a fidelity to poetic craft and innovative technique that few second books ever achieve. While you will be lured into this book by its ‘blood-song for / the marrowed ache and awe of tomorrow,’ you will be released, upon reading the final poem, breathless.”
RAQUEL SALAS RIVERA
's x/ex/exis (poemas para la nación) (poems for the nation)
has won the AMBROGGIO PRIZE
, which is a $1,000 publication prize given for a book-length poetry manuscript originally written in Spanish and with an English translation. The winning manuscript is published by Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingüe
, publisher of literary works, scholarship, and art books by or about U.S. Hispanics. Established in 2017, the Ambroggio Prize is the only annual award of its kind in the United States that honors American poets whose first language is Spanish. This year's judge was Academy Chancellor Alberto Ríos
Raquel Salas Rivera is the author of several other poetry collections, most recently lo terciario/the tertiary (Timeless, Infinite Light, 2018). A CantoMundo fellow, Rivera is the coeditor of Puerto Rico en mi corazón, a collection of bilingual broadsides of contemporary Puerto Rico poets. They currently serve as the 2018–2019 poet laureate of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where they live.
About Rivera's winning manuscript, judge Alberto Ríos said: "Winning me over entirely with their fiercely rendered tenderness and emergent sense of a simultaneously tough and tender I, these poems and their speaker are, to use so simple a word for so complex a world, strong. Strong. These poems do not play by formality or easy rules—and are all the more compelling because of that, stretching the idea of rules altogether, rules in all things, from written punctuation to living a life. These poems speak passion and clarity and yearning. More important, they simply speak. In an often wild gallop through language and ideas, unfamiliar leaps across singular experiences, I am thrown off the horse many times, but the speaker keeps talking me repeatedly back into the saddle of these poems."
’s translation of Names of the Lion
by Ibn Khālawayh (Wave Books, 2017) 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 Ammiel Alcalay
David Larsen is the author of the poetry collection The Thorn (Faux Press, 2005). He is a clinical associate professor at New York University.
Judge Ammiel Alcalay said of Larsen’s winning translation: “Among a shortlist of superb translations of major works, David Larsen’s rendition from Arabic of al-Husayn ibn Ahmad ibn Khālawayh’s tenth-century Names of the Lion stands out for its meticulous, uncompromising, and idiosyncratic attempt to forge a poetics within which a text like this can find some footing. Essentially a list of more than 300 names for lion, surrounded by an elaborate apparatus that feels, at times, like a Borges story, Larsen provides a clear window into the vast world of classical Arabic lexicography, biography, and literary criticism. While the primary text may appear almost unlikely, Larsen’s construction of the apparatus in which it is embedded is an act of both deep scholarship and innovative poetics that, like the fate of the lion itself, is a tale of survival. One hopes that bestowing a prize for this kind of innovative work will lead to further recognition of translation projects that provide windows into the vastness of different chronologies, allegiances, and attentions.”
’s translation of The Diary of Kaspar Hauser
by Paolo Febbraro (Negative Capability Press, 2017) has won the RAIZISS/DE PALCHI BOOK PRIZE
. Established in 1995, this $10,000 prize is given for the translation into English of a significant work of modern Italian poetry. The judges were Maria Luisa Ardizzone, Giorgio Mobili, and Michael Palma
Anthony Molino is the recipient of awards from the Fulbright Foundation, the American Academy in Rome, and the Pennsylvania Council of the Arts, and in 1997 he received the inaugural Raiziss/de Palchi Translation Fellowship. His translation, with Gray Sutherland, of Luigia Sorrentino’s Olympia is forthcoming in 2019 from Negative Capability Press.
Judge Michael Palma
wrote of Molino’s winning translation: “Inspired by Werner Herzog’s 1974 film, The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser
, about the mysterious youth who wandered into Nuremberg in 1828, Paolo Febbraro’s The Diary of Kaspar Hauser
imagines the questioning and often pained notations of a sensitive spirit totally unprepared to live in the world. In forty brief, incisive sections, Febbraro explores issues of perception and reality, of doubt and alienation, that reverberate long after the book has been read. Anthony Molino’s translation is nuanced, precise, and carefully judged, right down to giving each of the fictional prose documents that frame the sequence a style appropriate to its author and time period. Molino’s rendering honors the original and stands as an independent literary achievement.”
has won the ALIKI PERROTI AND SETH FRANK MOST PROMISING YOUNG POET AWARD
for his poem “A Boy Can Wear a Dress.” 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 Academy Chancellor Ellen Bass
John Bosworth is a senior at the University of Texas at Austin, where he studies English and Plan II Honors. Bosworth is also the recipient of the 2018 Roy Crane Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Arts and a two-time winner of James F. Parker Writing Contests. He currently works as a poetry intern at Bat City Review.
About “A Boy Can Wear a Dress,” judge Ellen Bass
said: “This poem surprises and engages me at every turn. I admire the technical skill, imagination, clear music, and the unexpected, compelling images. There is so much that’s exciting and fresh here. The marriage of whimsy and urgency, eros, and death make this poem memorable. I very much look forward to reading John Bosworth’s poems in the future.”
In April, the Academy of American Poets announced that EMILY SKAJA
received the WALT WHITMAN AWARD
for her poetry collection BRUTE
, which will be published by Graywolf Press
in 2019. She received $5,000 and a residency at the Civitella Ranieri Center
in Italy. Joy Harjo judged the award.
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 Toi Derricotte
, Mark Doty
, Louise Glück
, Jorie Graham
, Joy Harjo
, Robert Hass
, Li-Young Lee
, Sylvia Plath
, Mark Strand
, and Ocean Vuong
About the Academy of American Poets
The Academy of American Poets is the largest member-supported nonprofit organization championing American poets and poetry. The organization produces Poets.org, the world’s largest publicly-funded website for poets and poetry; originated and continues to organize National Poetry Month
; publishes the popular Poem-a-Day
series and American Poets magazine
; creates and distributes free, award-winning resources for K-12 educators
; and hosts an annual series of poetry readings and special events. In addition, the organization coordinates the Poetry Coalition
, an alliance of more than 20 poetry organizations across the United States. Since its founding in 1934, the Academy has awarded more money to poets than any other organization through its American Poets Prizes