New York, NY (July 18, 2019)—The Academy of American Poets is pleased to announce that Harryette Mullen will judge the 2020 Walt Whitman Award, the nation’s most generous first-book prize for poetry. The winner of the Whitman Award will receive $5,000, and the winning manuscript will be published by Graywolf Press in 2021. In addition, the Academy of American Poets will purchase and send thousands of copies of the book to its members, which will make it one of the most widely distributed poetry books of the year. The award winner will also receive a six-week all-expenses-paid residency at the Civitella Ranieri Center in Umbria, Italy, and will be featured in American Poets magazine and on, which reaches millions of readers each year.

Established in 1975, the Academy of American Poets’ Walt Whitman Award is designed to encourage the work of emerging poets. Previous recipients include poets Nicole Cooley, Suji Kwock Kim, Eric Pankey, Matt Rasmussen, Alberto Ríos, Mai Der Vang, and Jenny Xie, among others. The most recent winner of the prize was Leah Naomi Green, for her book The More Extravagant Feast, which was selected by judge Li-Young Lee and will be published by Graywolf Press in April 2020.

The annual award is one of the American Poets Prizes, a collection of eleven major prizes given by the Academy of American Poets, and it is made possible by financial support from the organization’s members. Other prizes include the $25,000 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, which is the most generous book-of-the-year prize in poetry; the $100,000 Wallace Stevens Award for lifetime achievement; and the $25,000 Academy of American Poets Fellowship.

Submissions to the 2020 Walt Whitman Award will be accepted online between September 1 and November 1, 2019, and the recipient will be announced in April 2020, during National Poetry Month.

For more information about the Walt Whitman Award and the American Poets Prizes, visit

About Harryette Mullen

Mullen received the 2009 Academy of American Poets Fellowship for distinguished poetic achievement. She is the author of Urban Tumbleweed (Graywolf Press, 2013); Blues Baby: Early Poems (Bucknell University Press, 2002); and Sleeping with the Dictionary (University of California Press, 2002), which was a finalist for the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Los Angeles Times Book Award in poetry. Her many honors include a Gertrude Stein Award in Innovative American Poetry and the Jackson Poetry Prize, as well as a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, a Rockefeller Fellowship from the Susan B. Anthony Institute for Women's Studies at the University of Rochester, and a United States Artist Fellowship. She teaches African American literature and creative writing in the English Department at the University of California, Los Angeles. 

About the Academy of American Poets

The Academy of American Poets is our nation’s leading champion of poets and poetry. Founded in 1934, 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; Teach This Poem and other resources for K-12 educators; an annual series of poetry readings and special events; and awards more funds to poets than any other organization. It also coordinates and supports the work of a national Poetry Coalition, an alliance of more than 20 poetry organizations working to promote the value poets bring to our culture and the important contribution poetry makes in the lives of people of all ages and backgrounds.

About Graywolf Press

Graywolf Press is an independent, nonprofit publisher committed to the discovery and energetic publication of contemporary American and international literature. For more information, visit

About Civitella Ranieri

Located in a fifteenth-century castle in the Umbrian region of Italy, Civitella Ranieri Center is a workplace for international writers, composers, and visual artists. Since 1995, Civitella has hosted more than one thousand Fellows and Director’s Guests. In keeping with the spirit of its founder, Ursula Corning, and the tradition of hospitality and support for the arts that she established at the castle, the Center enables its Fellows to pursue their work and to exchange ideas in a unique and inspiring setting. For more information, visit