New York, NY (June 6, 2024)—The Academy of American Poets, a leading champion of poets and poetry in the nation, announces Alberto Ríos as the judge of its 2025 First Book Award. Ríos, who was selected by Donald Justice as the winner of the prize (then called the Walt Whitman Award) in 1981 for his collection Whispering to Fool the Wind, went on to serve as Academy Chancellor from 2013–2018.

The winner of the 2025 First Book Award will receive $5,000; publication of their manuscript in 2026 by Graywolf Press, a distinguished nonprofit publisher of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry; and a six-week, all-expenses-paid residency at Civitella Ranieri in Umbria, Italy, where they will be part of a cohort of accomplished international artists, writers, and composers. The winner will also be featured on, the nation’s largest publicly funded poetry website, with more than 20 million visitors each year, and in American Poets, the Academy’s biannual members magazine which is distributed to ten thousand readers. The Academy will purchase and send thousands of copies of the published book to its members, making it one of the most widely distributed poetry books of the year. 

The 2024 winner, Robin Walter, was selected by judge Victoria Chang for her manuscript Little Mercy, which will be published by Graywolf Press in April 2025. Walter’s debut collection, Chang wrote, “quietly and gently asks us to look at all the natural beauty and cruelty (but mostly beauty) we face each day, every minute, every second of our strange time on this earth.” 

Established in 1975, the First Book Award, which is made possible in part by the support of Academy members, celebrates emerging poets and enables the publication of a debut collection. Previous recipients include Kemi Alabi, April Bernard, Christopher Gilbert, Suji Kwock Kim, Mai Der Vang, Sara Daniele Rivera, and Jenny Xie.

Xie, whose book Eye Level was the winner of the 2017 prize and a finalist for the National Book Award in 2018, wrote, “I’m grateful for the richer sense of literary and intellectual community that the book has fostered for me all of these years. That the First Book Award is given out by the Academy of American Poets, whose role it is to extend the reach of poetry and the freedom it secures, means more than I can say.”

Submissions to the 2025 Academy of American Poets First Book Award will be accepted online between July 1 and September 1, 2024. The recipient will be announced in March or 2025, during the launch of April National Poetry Month. Poets who meet the eligibility requirements are encouraged to apply. 

To review the eligibility requirements and official guidelines, and to submit to the Academy of American Poets First Book Award, visit  

About Alberto Ríos

Alberto Ríos is the author of thirteen books and chapbooks of poetry, three collections of short stories, a memoir, and a novel. His poetry collections include Every Sound is Not a Wolf (Copper Canyon Press, forthcoming in 2025); Not Go Away is My Name (Copper Canyon Press, 2020); The Theater of Night (Copper Canyon Press, 2005), winner of the 2007 PEN/Beyond Margins Award; and The Smallest Muscle in the Human Body (Copper Canyon Press, 2002), a finalist for the National Book Award. He is the recipient of the Western Literature Association’s Distinguished Achievement Award, the Arizona Governor’s Arts Award, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Ríos is a Regents’ Professor at Arizona State University, where he has taught since 1982. He is Arizona’s inaugural poet laureate and a former Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. In 2017, he was named director of the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing.

About the Academy of American Poets

Founded in 1934, the Academy of American Poets is the nation’s leading champion of poets and poetry with supporters in all fifty states and beyond. The organization annually awards $1.3+ million to more than two hundred poets at various stages of their careers through its prize program, which includes the Poet Laureate Fellowships. The organization also produces, the world’s largest publicly funded website for poets and poetry; established and organizes National Poetry Month each April; publishes the popular Poem-a-Day series and American Poets magazine; provides free resources to K–12 educators, including the award-winning weekly Teach This Poem series; hosts an annual series of poetry readings and special events; and coordinates a national Poetry Coalition that promotes the value poets bring to our culture. To learn more about the Academy of American Poets, including its staff, its Board of Directors, and its Board of Chancellors, visit:

About Civitella Ranieri

Located in a fifteenth-century castle in the Umbrian region of Italy, Civitella Ranieri 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, Civitella enables its Fellows and Director’s Guests to pursue their work and to exchange ideas in a unique and inspiring setting. For more information, visit

About Graywolf Press

Graywolf Press publishes risk-taking, visionary writers who transform culture through literature. Recent books published by Graywolf have won the Pulitzer Prize, the Nobel Prize, the Booker Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the National Book Award, among other honors. Graywolf Press is celebrating fifty years of publishing in 2024 with a series of events in Minneapolis, New York, San Francisco, and elsewhere. Visit for more information