New York, NY (September 5, 2019)— The Academy of American Poets is pleased to announce the winners of the 2019 American Poets Prizes, which are among the most valuable and venerable poetry prizes in the United States. This year the organization has awarded more funds to poets than any other organization, giving a total of $1,250,000 to poets at various stages of their careers.
RITA DOVE 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.
Rita Dove is the author of ten volumes of poetry, including Thomas and Beulah (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1986), which won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry; On the Bus with Rosa Parks (W. W. Norton, 1999), which was named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; and Collected Poems 1974-2004 (W.W. Norton, 2016), which was a finalist for the National Book Award. In addition to poetry, Dove has published a novel, a book of short stories, and numerous essays. Dove served as Poet Laureate of the United States from 1993 to 1995 and served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 2005 to 2011. Among her many honors are the National Humanities Medal bestowed by President Bill Clinton, and the National Medal of Arts presented by President Barack Obama—making her the only poet who has received both medals, as well as the Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Medal and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Furious Flower Poetry Center at James Madison University. She is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia.
About Dove, Academy Chancellor Ellen Bass said: “The depth of Rita Dove’s insight is astonishing. She sees into our most complex relationships and renders those truths with startling precision. She delivers us to ourselves. With technical virtuosity and luscious music, her poems torch us with beauty and brutality, innocence and ruin. Fiercely political and exactly intimate, this is brilliant poetry at its height. In her poem ‘Soprano,’ Dove writes: ‘When you hit / the center // of a note, spin / through and off // the bell lip / into heaven, // the soul dies / for an instant—’ Rita Dove could be describing her own poetry!”
ILYA KAMINSKY has received the ACADEMY OF AMERICAN POETS FELLOWSHIP. Established in 1936 and given in memory of James Ingram Merrill, with generous support from the T. S. Eliot Foundation, this prize recognizes distinguished poetic achievement and carries with it a stipend of $25,000 and a residency at the Eliot summer home in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Fellows are nominated and elected by a majority vote of the Academy’s Board of Chancellors. Past recipients include Gwendolyn Brooks, Robert Frost, and Tracy K. Smith.
Ilya Kaminsky is the author of multiple collections of poetry, including Deaf Republic (Graywolf Press, 2019). The recipient of a Lannan Literary Fellowship, a Whiting Award, the Ruth Lily Poetry Fellowship, and a 2019 Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, he holds the Margaret T. and Henry C. Bourne Jr. Chair in Poetry and directs the [email protected] program at Georgia Tech.
About Kaminsky, Academy Chancellor Kwame Dawes said: “Ilya Kaminsky is among a few poets that one has to admire for his impact on the wider poetry world through the force of his art, despite his relatively modest publishing output as a poet. Consequently, he is quite easily and rightfully recognized as a vital voice in global poetry and one of the most brilliant poets working today. His is a poetics for our moment, as much engaged in understanding the world of Eastern Europe as it is in understanding America today. And yet in his work one suspects a reach that extends beyond our moment—a reach for something urgent and essential—a sense of social justice and a compelling proposition that speaking out against tyranny and abuse perpetuated by governments remains a timeless and necessary imperative of art. The quest for beauty in language is, therefore, an act of resistance and even protest in the face of the ugliness of human oppression. Ilya Kaminsky remains a tremendous broker for the poetic arts in our world today.”
KYLE DARGAN’s book Anagnorisis (TriQuarterly/Northwestern University Press, 2018) 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. The prize includes a ten-day residency at Glen Hollow in Naples, New York, and distribution of the winning book to hundreds of Academy of American Poets members. Past recipients include Charles Wright, Adrienne Rich, and Kevin Young. The judges were Major Jackson, Patricia Smith, and David Wojahn.
Kyle Dargan is the author of the poetry collection Anagnorisis (TriQuarterly/Northwestern UP, 2018), which was longlisted for the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in poetry; Honest Engine (University of Georgia Press, 2015); Logorrhea Dementia (University of Georgia Press, 2010); Bouquet of Hungers (University of Georgia Press, 2007); and The Listening (University of Georgia Press, 2003). He has received the Cave Canem Poetry Prize, the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, grants from the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, and he has been a finalist for the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award and the Eric Hoffer Awards Grand Prize. He is currently an Associate Professor of literature and Director of creative writing at American University, as well as the founder and editor of POST NO ILLS magazine.
About Dargan’s winning book, judge Patricia Smith said: “With Anagnorisis Kyle Dargan—as blatantly restless and incendiary as James Baldwin—chronicles the ritual extinction of the Black body and warns that the prayed-for, pie-in-the-sky concept of racial equality is definitively not on the agenda. Black folks can wait patiently for that longed-for liberation as reward or reparation—but in the eyes of power, we’re already as free as we’re ever going to be. The story of our laughably ‘post-racial’ America is numbingly simple: Our antagonists’ hands will always circle our throats. In this blistering and vital volume, Dargan has zero empathy for the strangler and even less for the blind believers in racial redemption. Anagnorisis serves up a bright, harrowing truth, an answer that politics and prayer are not designed to deliver. For those who are brown or black, the utter brilliance of this book is that it begins us again. This time, we’re not begging anyone for our root in the world. And when we reach out, it’s painfully overdue, and it’s only for each other.”
ADITI MACHADO’s book Emporium (Nightboat Books, 2020) 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 Gillian Conoley, Fady Joudah, and Cole Swensen.
Aditi Machado is the author of Some Beheadings (Nightboat Books, 2017), winner of the 2018 Believer Poetry Award. Her second collection Emporium is forthcoming from Nightboat Books in 2020. She has translated Farid Tali’s Prosopopoeia (Action Books, 2016) into English and currently works as the Visiting Poet-in-Residence at Washington University in Saint Louis.
About Machado’s winning book, judges Gillian Conoley, Fady Joudah, and Cole Swensen said: “Aditi Machado’s Emporium takes us on a tour of the development of mercantilism that gradually and deftly builds up into a critique of capitalism and its plundering. Her response to the resulting ‘emporium’ and its inevitable clichés is a language of resistance, but also one of delight, pleasure, and profound discovery. These poems rearrange and reorient the social and the political, making room for the ineffable, exposing a commerce of both oppression and expression in pieces that are alternately meditative, cinematic, playful, and searing—and always linguistically surprising. Never didactic, it’s a work that comes from the margins—and from many of them simultaneously, decentering her center of trade and commerce, and leaving us with an emporium of possibility made by a magician’s hands and a visionary’s eyes.”
GLORIA MUÑOZ's Danzsirley/Dawn’s Early 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 Rosa Alcalá.
Gloria Muñoz is a Colombian-American writer and translator. She is the author of the chapbook Your Biome Has Found You (Finishing Line Press, 2017) and her writing has been honored by a the New York Summer Writer’s Institute Fellowship, a Creative Pinellas Artist Grant, the USF Humanities Institute Poetry Award, and a Think Small to Think Big Artist Grant. Muñoz received a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and an MFA from the University of South Florida. She teaches at Eckerd College and is a co-founder of Pitch Her Productions, an organization dedicated to women in film.
About Muñoz's winning manuscript, judge Rosa Alcalá said: “‘What danzsirley poems!’ This is what I imagine the father in this book might say, using what he deems ‘the most glorious’ adjective ‘in the English language’ but in reality is a mishearing of the U.S. national anthem’s ‘dawn’s early.’ Nevertheless, this neologism, which the father applies to everything remarkable, describes perfectly a poetic language energized by what is simultaneously emergent and at the brink of extinction—when the speaker moves between origins and imagined futures, or a father denies his own immigrant hardship and cheerfully tells his daughter, ‘You are / American.’ This book is about interrogating the mold that shaped ‘the plastic / of my parents’ American dreams’ while worrying about its effects on the next generation, and it flips the script to show these molds’ destructive nature. The poems compose a fractured anthem that sings of connection and disconnection to place, identity, family, and language. To the tune of ‘you win, you lose, you win, you lose,’ this book’s anthem is ultimately about the immigrant’s struggle and desire to thrive, proclaiming proudly, ‘Por si las moscas, // we’re prepared / for anything.’”
CLARE CAVANAGH’s translation of Asymmetry by Adam Zagajewski (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2018) 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 Dunya Mikhail.
Clare Cavanagh is the Frances Hooper Professor of Arts and Humanities and the Professor of Slavic Literatures and Comparative Literary Studies at Northwestern University. Her book, Lyric Poetry and Modern Politics: Russia, Poland, and the West (Yale University Press) received the National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism for 2010. She has translated, or co-translated, sixteen volumes of Polish poetry and prose, including, most recently, Wisława Szymborska’s Map: Collected and Last Poems, with Stanisław Barańczak (Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt, 2015), Adam Zagajewski’s Slight Exaggeration (Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2017) and Asymmetry (Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2018), and Ryszard Krynicki’s Magnetic Point: Selected Poems (New Directions, 2017). Her awards include Guggenheim and NEH Fellowships, an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature and a PEN Prize in Translation. She has recently been elected to membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Judge Dunya Mikhail said of Cavanagh’s winning translation: “Among a list of astonishing translations of major works, Clare Cavanagh’s rendition of Adam Zagajewski’s Asymmetry stands out for its such quiet yet engaging voice. Pure, clear, and essential, these poems try to trace the everyday life and everyday absence of the poet’s loved ones. In doing so, the poet's intimate personal tone intersects piercingly with its historical moments. Here great art is at the service of irremediable grief and precarious humanity.”
WILL SCHUTT’s translation of the work of Italian poet Fabio Pusterla has won the RAIZISS/DE PALCHI FELLOWSHIP. Established in 1995, this $25,000 prize is given for the translation into English of a significant work of modern Italian poetry. The fellowship is given to enable an American translator to travel, study, or otherwise advance a significant work-in-progress. The winning translator also receives a five week residency at the American Academy in Rome. The judges were Maria Frank, Giorgio Mobili, and Michael Palma.
Will Schutt is the author of Westerly (Yale University Press, 2013) and translator, most recently, of My Life, I Lapped It Up: Selected Poems of Edoardo Sanguineti (Oberlin College Press, 2018). His other translations from the Italian include Fabio Genovesi’s novel The Breaking of a Wave (Europa Editions, 2017), which was shortlisted for the 2018 ALTA Italian Prose in Translation Award. He lives in Baltimore and co-curates Policromia, an annual international festival of poetry and translation in Siena, Italy.
Fabio Pusterla was born in Mendrisio, Switzerland, in 1957. He is the author of several collections of poetry. His most recent book, Cenere, o Terra (Ashes, or Earth), was published by Marcos y Marcos in 2018. An active translator and essayist, he lives and works between Lombardy and Lugano, where he teaches Italian language and literature.
Judge Michael Palma wrote of Schutt’s winning translation: “Fabio Pusterla, born in 1957 in Switzerland, resident in northern Italy, a citizen of both nations, is the author of many volumes of poetry that range widely over childhood reminiscences, landscapes of mountains and fogs, compassion for the downtrodden and reviled, and much else. What he writes of the Alpine peak Uertsch, that perhaps its ‘secret...lies in its capacity to contain many things at once, water and stone, beauty and terror,’ might also be applied to his work. Will Schutt, an award-winning poet and the acclaimed translator of Edoardo Sanguineti, has devoted his own considerable skills to fashioning versions of Pusterla that precisely reflect their originals while becoming true and satisfying English-language poems.”
JONATHAN TEKLIT has won the ALIKI PERROTI AND SETH FRANK MOST PROMISING YOUNG POET AWARD for his poem “Black Mythology.” 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 Marilyn Chin.
Jonathan Teklit was born in Alexandria, VA and raised in Dubai. He is currently a senior at Franklin and Marshall College and is working towards a joint major in psychology and creative writing. In 2018, he received an honorable mention for the 2018 Button Poetry Video Contest.
About “Black Mythology,” judge Marilyn Chin said: “This brilliant and powerful retelling of the Greek myth of Icarus recasts a runaway slave as protagonist and hero. In just fourteen lines the compressed narrative grips us, and our shameful history of slavery is revealed in a compact quasi-sonnet frame. The words and images are carefully chosen for their spectacular symbolic power. For instance: ‘North’ and ‘unfamiliar South’ cleverly describe both the flight and fall of Icarus as well as plot the trail of the Great Migration. The haunting image of the Middle Passage—the ocean ‘bloated blue with bodies of kin’—closes the poem with stunning reverberations. I look forward to reading more poems by Jonathan Teklit in the future!”
In April, the Academy of American Poets announced that LEAH NAOMI GREEN received the WALT WHITMAN AWARD for her poetry collection The More Extravagant Feast which will be published by Graywolf Press in 2020. She received $5,000 and a six-week residency at the Civitella Ranieri Center in Italy. Li-Young Lee judged the award. It also announced the inaugural recipients of the ACADEMY OF AMERICAN POETS LAUREATE FELLOWSHIPS, thirteen Poets Laureate who were awarded a combined and historic total of $1,050,000 in recognition of their literary merit and to support their respective civic programs over the course of a year: Grace Cavalieri, Poet Laureate of Maryland; Molly Fisk, Poet Laureate of Nevada County, California; Jaki Shelton Green, Poet Laureate of North Carolina; Fred L. Joiner, Poet Laureate of Carrboro, North Carolina; Robin Coste Lewis, Poet Laureate of Los Angeles, California; Claudia Castro Luna, Poet Laureate of Washington State; Ed Madden, Poet Laureate of Columbia, South Carolina; Adrian Matejka, Poet Laureate of Indiana; Jeanetta Calhoun Mish, Poet Laureate of Oklahoma; Paisley Rekdal, Poet Laureate of Utah; Raquel Salas Rivera, Poet Laureate of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Kim Shuck, Poet Laureate of San Francisco, California; and TC Tolbert, Poet Laureate of Tucson, Arizona.
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 our nation’s leading champion of poets and poetry with members in all fifty states. Founded in 1934, the organization produces Poets.org, 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 award-winning 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 twenty 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.