Anna Moschovakis Receives the James Laughlin Award

Posted on

Aug 22 2011

$5,000 for an outstanding second book

New York, August 22—The Academy of American Poets announced today that Anna Moschovakis's collection You and Three Others Are Approaching a Lake (Coffee House Press, 2011) was chosen by poets Juliana Spahr, Brian Teare, and Mónica de la Torre to receive the 2011 James Laughlin Award, which presents $5,000 for the most outstanding second book by an American poet in the previous year. The award will be presented at the Academy's Awards Ceremony on October 21, as part of the fifth annual Poets Forum in New York City.

About the selection, Brian Teare says:

Anna Moschovakis boldly writes as though Plato had never kicked poets out of the Republic, and in You and Three Others Are Approaching a Lake, she takes up the citizen's task of thinking through political and existential issues relevant to lives lived in increasing dependence on internet access and globalization both. Her manner, however, resembles philosophy only in its reliance on a grammar of apparent objectivity: "We start not with theory," she proclaims, "but with tangible performance," "with experience, magic/genuine science." Beneath their controlled and imperturbable surfaces, her poems perform the painful experience of the complicity with injustice that comes with citizenship—while lamenting colonization, opportunism, and capitalism, her poems search themselves for the common root of the urge toward empire, asking: "is it more than you would have done?" At its most critical, this searching reveals the "underbelly" of each of her many subjects: industry leads to waste, labor leads to boredom, wealth leads to guilt, and intimacy leads to misprision. But this ambitious and compassionate book also believes—or hopes—that mindful attention to language might happily lead us elsewhere, toward other economies, other ways of being here together. "One letter at a time we build relationships," Moschovakis declares, "even though the letter is only a virtual letter and the labor, such as it is, is free."

Anna Moschovakis is the author of two books of poems, You and Three Others Are Approaching a Lake (Coffee House Press, 2011) and I Have Not Been Able to Get Through to Everyone (Turtle Point Press, 2006). Recent translations from the French include the novels The Jokers by Albert Cossery, and The Engagement by Georges Simenon. A freelance editor and book designer, she also teaches in various institutions including the Writing Program at Pratt Institute and Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College. She is a longtime member of Brooklyn-based publishing collective Ugly Duckling Presse, for which she edits several books a year and heads up the Dossier Series of investigative texts. When not working in New York City, she lives in South Kortright, NY, part of the Catskill/Delaware watershed.

Juliana Spahr is the author of Well Then There Now (Black Sparrow Press, 2011), This Connection of Everyone with Lungs (University of California Press, 2005), Fuck You—Aloha—I Love You (Wesleyan University Press, 2001), and Response (Sun & Moon Press, 1996), winner of the National Poetry Series Award. She is the recipient of the 2009 Hardison Poetry Prize awarded by the Folger Shakespeare Library. Spahr lives in Berkeley, California.

Brian Teare's latest book of poems, Pleasure (Ahsahta Press, 2010) won the 2011 Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry. He is also the author of Sight Map (University of California Press, 2009) and The Room Where I Was Born (University of Wisconsin, 2003), winner of the Brittingham Prize and the 2004 Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry. A former Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, Teare has received fellowships from the National Endowment of the Arts and the MacDowell Colony. He lives in San Francisco.

Mónica de la Torre is the author of Talk Shows (Switchback Books, 2007) and Public Domain (Roof Books, 2008). With Michael Wiegers, she co-edited the collection Reversible Monuments: Contemporary Mexican Poetry (Copper Canyon Press, 2002) and is the co-author of Appendices, Illustrations, & Notes (Smart Art Press, 2000) with artist Terence Gower. She is a senior editor at BOMB magazine and lives in New York City.

The James Laughlin Award is given to commend and support a poet's second book of poetry. The award was established by a gift to the Academy from the Drue Heinz Trust in honor of the poet and publisher James Laughlin (1914-1997). As a sophomore at Harvard College, James Laughlin founded New Directions, one of the most important publishers of twentieth-century literature. Writers whose work has been published by New Directions include Franz Kafka, James Joyce, Denise Levertov, Henry Miller, Ezra Pound, Delmore Schwartz, Gertrude Stein, Tennessee Williams, and William Carlos Williams. Mr. Laughlin was the author of numerous books of fiction, essays, and poetry, including Collected Poems (1993), The Man in the Wall (1993), and Random Stories (1990).

The Academy of American Poets is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1934 to foster appreciation for contemporary poetry and to support American poets at all stages of their careers. For over three generations, the Academy has connected millions of people to great poetry through programs such as National Poetry Month, the largest literary celebration in the world;, the most popular site about poetry on the web, presenting a wealth of great poems, audio recordings, poet biographies, essays, and interactive discussions about poetry; the Poetry Audio Archive, capturing the voices of contemporary American poets for generations to come; American Poet, a biannual literary journal; and our annual series of poetry readings and special events. The Academy also awards prizes to accomplished poets at all stages of their careers—from hundreds of student prizes at colleges nationwide to the Wallace Stevens Award for lifetime achievement in the art of poetry. For more information, visit

The Drue Heinz Trust is a private charitable foundation directed by Drue Heinz, the widow of the "57 Varieties" former chairman, currently on the Board of Directors of the Paris Review, she is the former publisher of The Paris Review, and Antaeus, the international quarterly of contemporary literature. Mrs. Heinz and James Laughlin were long-time friends and colleagues, sharing a vital interest in good writing.