New York, NY (August 26, 2014)—The Academy of American Poets is pleased to announce the winners of the 2014 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. The recipients will be honored at the American Poets Prizes ceremony on October 17, 2014, at 7:00 p.m. at The New School in New York City. The event is free and open to the public and is part of the Academy’s eighth annual Poets Forum, a weekend of readings and provocative conversations featuring some of our country’s leading poets. The awards recipients and the judges who selected them are listed below.
Robert Hass 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.
Robert Hass is the author of numerous collections of poetry, most recently, The Apple Trees at Olema: New and Selected Poems (Ecco Press, 2010). He is also the author of What Light Can Do: Essays on Art, Imagination, and the Natural World (Ecco Press, 2012). He served as Poet Laureate of the United States from 1995 to 1997. His honors include a Pulitzer Prize, a National Book Award, two National Book Critics Circle Awards, a MacArthur Fellowship, and the William Carlos Williams Award. A former Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, he is Distinguished Professor in Poetry and Poetics at the University of California, Berkeley.
About Robert Hass, Academy of American Poets Chancellor Jane Hirshfield said: "From his first book to his most recent collection of essays, Robert Hass’s poems and life work have enlarged the map of American poetry in original and immeasurable ways. Within what sounds like the daily speech of a man thinking and talking among friends, Hass probes the central questions of a life and an age, addressing personal relationships and environmental citizenship, metaphysics and history, the natural world and the world of letters. As a writer, translator, educator, activist, and model of where clear-seeing honesty, passionate curiosity, and the love of language can take you, Hass stands as one of the lighthouse poets of our time. He is the epitome poet the Wallace Stevens Award was created to honor."
Tracy K. Smith 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.
Tracy K. Smith’s most recent collection of poems is Life on Mars (Graywolf Press, 2011), which won the Pulitzer Prize. Her other honors include the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, the Cave Canem Poetry Prize, a Rona Jaffe Writers Award, and a Wallace Stegner Fellowship. She teaches at Princeton University and lives in Brooklyn, New York.
About Tracy K. Smith, Academy of American Poets Chancellor Toi Derricotte said: “The surfaces of a Tracy K. Smith poem are beautiful and serene, but underneath, there is always a sense of an unknown vastness. Her poems take the risk of inviting us to imagine, as the poet does, what it is to travel in another person’s shoes. The Academy is fortunate to be able to confer this fitting recognition on one of the most important poets of our time.”
Rigoberto González’s book Unpeopled Eden (Four Way Books, 2013) 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 Kwame Dawes, Alicia Suskin Ostriker, and Susan Stewart.
Rigoberto González is the author of fifteen books of poetry and prose, including Other Fugitives and Other Strangers (Tupelo Press, 2006). His other honors include the American Book Award, the Lambda Literary Award, the Poetry Center Book Award, the Shelley Memorial Award of the Poetry Society of America, and a University and College Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets, as well as fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. He is a professor of English at Rutgers–Newark, the State University of New Jersey, and lives in New York.
About Rigoberto González’s book, Kwame Dawes said: “When a single title is a complex and evocative poem, and when such titles recur throughout a collection of poems, we know we are experiencing a work of signature authority, beauty, urgency and necessity. This is what we experience in the book Unpeopled Eden by Rigoberto González —a work of profound lament and excruciating beauty… Rigoberto González is an important American poet, and Unpeopled Eden is a very, very important book.”
Brian Blanchfield’s book A Several World (Nightboat Books, 2014) 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 and the Academy of American Poets distributes copies of the book to its thousands of members. Past recipients include Donald Hall, Sharon Olds, and Vijay Seshadri. The judges were Lee Ann Brown, Tina Chang, and C. S. Giscombe.
Brian Blanchfield is also the author of Not Even Then (University of California Press, 2004). His collection of essays, Onesheets, is forthcoming from Nightboat Books in 2015. He has taught at Pratt Institute of Art, and in the graduate writing programs at Otis College of Art and Design and at the University of Montana, where he was the 2008–2009 Richard Hugo Writer in Residence. He is a poetry editor at Fence and teaches poetry and nonfiction writing in the Honors College at the University of Arizona. He lives in Tucson, Arizona.
About Brian Blanchfield’s work, C. S. Giscombe said: “Brian Blanchfield’s book examines and contests commonality. That is, A Several World unsettles the world—all and several alike—by reading its associations and memberships and public languages with an unnerving exactingness. And, for all that, it’s a very finely-ranging travelogue, though not in the usual senses.”
W. S. Merwin’s Selected Translations (Copper Canyon Press, 2013) 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 David Hinton.
W. S. Merwin is the author of over thirty books of poetry and more than twenty books of translation. His most recent poetry collection is The Moon Before Morning (Copper Canyon Press, 2014). He served as Poet Laureate of the United States from 2010 to 2011. His other honors include two Pulitzer Prizes, a National Book Award, the Wallace Stevens Award, the Academy of American Poets Fellowship, the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets, the Bollingen Prize, and the Lannan Literary Award for Lifetime Achievement. A former Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, he currently lives in Hawaii.
About W. S. Merwin’s book, David Hinton said: “W. S. Merwin’s art is ravenous, and this award celebrates that hunger. To translate is to inhabit another voice, which in turn enlarges one’s horizons as a writer; and Merwin’s huge Selected Translations represents a lifetime spent doing just that: feeding his own art with other voices. The book is a museum of world poetry, collecting artifacts from a vast range of cultures and times. This year, in addition to the Selected Translations, Merwin also published a voluminous translation from one of Japan’s greatest classical poets, a major addition to his world-poetry museum: Collected Haiku of Yosa Buson. And so continues Merwin’s lifelong gift to our hunger for other voices.”
Luigi Bonaffini’s book The Bedroom (Chelsea Editions, 2013), a translation of Attilio Bertolucci’s La Camera Da Letto, has won the RAIZISS/DE PALCHI BOOK PRIZE. Established in 1995, this prize recognizes outstanding translations of modern Italian poetry into English through a $10,000 book award. The judges were Barbara Carle, Luigi Fontanella, and Giuseppe Leporace.
Luigi Bonaffini has translated over fourteen books and has edited or coedited five trilingual anthologies of Italian dialect poetry. He most recently coedited the anthology Poets of the Italian Diaspora (Fordham University Press, 2013). He is also the editor of the Journal of Italian Translation. His other honors include the 2014 Translation Prize from the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Italian National Translation Prize. He is Tow Professor of Italian language and literature at Brooklyn College and lives in Brooklyn, New York.
About Luigi Bonaffini’s The Bedroom, Luigi Fontanella said: “American readers owe a great debt to Luigi Bonaffini for his astonishing achievement in translating La Camera Da Letto. He was able not only to reproduce in English the variegated waves of the imaginative rhythms and plastic energy of Bertolucci’s versification, but also to underscore the epic vastness of his inspiration, a vastness which the American reader will ideally link, for its inner elective affinities, to such great masters of English poetry as Wordsworth, Whitman, and Frost.”
New this year:
WENDY CHEN has won the inaugural ALIKI PERROTI AND SETH FRANK MOST PROMISING YOUNG POET AWARD for her poem “They Sail Across the Mirrored Sea.” Established in 2013, the award recognizes a student poet with a cash prize of $1,000. The prize is open to winners of the current year’s University & College Poetry Prizes, also given by the Academy of American Poets, that are twenty-three years old or younger. Submissions are judged by one of the past or current members of the Academy’s Board of Chancellors. This year’s judge was Alberto Ríos.
Wendy Chen was born in Lebanon, New Hampshire, in 1992 and raised primarily in Massachusetts. She recently graduated from Wellesley College with honors, and has earned her Bachelor of Arts in English and Studio Art. Chen is currently pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in poetry at Syracuse University as a University Fellow. She lives in Syracuse, New York.
About “They Sail Across the Mirrored Sea,” Alberto Ríos said: “This is poetry of genuine maturity, whose imagery and circumstance are constructed from patience, with a particularly demonstrable talent for turning the slowness of this story’s time into vibrant observation and compelling connection—in that way reaching from the depths of the poem out to us who are reading it.”
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.
Announced earlier this year:
Hannah Sanghee Park’s manuscript, The Same-Different, was selected by Rae Armantrout for the WALT WHITMAN AWARD. Established in 1975 to encourage the work of emerging poets, the award includes first-book publication, a cash prize of $5,000, and a residency. Her book will be published by Louisiana State University Press in 2015 and the Academy of American Poets will distribute thousands of copies to its members.
About the Academy of American Poets
Now in its eightieth year, the Academy of American Poets is the largest membership-based 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; American Poets magazine; 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.