Harryette Mullen Selects Threa Almontaser as 2020 Walt Whitman Award Recipient

New York, NY (March 30, 2020)— The Academy of American Poets is pleased to announce that Harryette Mullen has selected Threa Almontaser as the recipient of the 2020 Walt Whitman Award, the nation’s most valuable first-book prize for a poet, for her manuscript, The Wild Fox of Yemen, which will be published by Graywolf Press in April 2021.

In addition to publication, Almontaser will receive a six-week all-expenses-paid residency at the Civitella Ranieri Center in Umbria, Italy, as well as $5,000. The Academy of American Poets will also purchase and send thousands of copies of the book to its members, making it one of the most widely distributed poetry books of the year. In addition, she will be featured on Poets.org and in American Poets magazine.

The 2019 Walt Whitman Award-winning book, The More Extravagant Feast, by Leah Naomi Green will be published by Graywolf Press in April 2020.

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, Mai Der Vang, Jenny Xie, and Academy Chancellor Emeritus Alberto Ríos.

About The Wild Fox of Yemen, 2020 Walt Whitman Award judge Harryette Mullen says: “The spirit of Whitman lives in these poems that sing and celebrate a vibrant, rebellious body with all its physical and spiritual entanglements. Formally and linguistically diverse, these bold, defiant declarations of “reckless” embodiment acknowledge the self's nesting identities, proclaiming the individual's intricate relations to others, the one in the many and the many in the one. Ultimately, they ask how to belong to others without losing oneself, how to be faithful to oneself without forsaking others. Exuberant dialogues incorporate communities of known and unknown interlocutors along with translations of the Yemeni poet Abdullah Al-Baradouni.”

Threa Almontaser is a Yemeni American writer, translator, and multimedia artist from New York City. She holds an MFA from North Carolina State University and teaches English to immigrants and refugees in Raleigh, North Carolina.

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 the 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 free, award-winning resources for K-12 educators; and an annual series of poetry readings and special events. In addition, the Academy of American Poets coordinates a national Poetry Coalition working together 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. 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.

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 civitella.org.

About Graywolf Press

Graywolf Press is a leading independent, nonprofit publisher committed to the discovery and energetic publication of contemporary American and international literature. Graywolf champions outstanding writers of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry at all stages of their careers to ensure that diverse voices can be heard in a crowded marketplace. Recent books published by Graywolf have won the Pulitzer Prize, the Nobel Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the National Book Award, among others. For more information, visit graywolfpress.org.