New York, NY (March 29, 2018)—The Academy of American Poets is pleased to announce that Joy Harjo has selected Emily Skaja as the recipient of the 2018 Walt Whitman Award, the nation’s most valuable first-book prize for a poet, for her manuscript, Brute, which will be published by Graywolf Press in April 2019. Skaja 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 and in American Poets magazine.
The 2017 Walt Whitman Award-winning book, Eye Level, by Jenny Xie will be published by Graywolf Press next month.
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, and current Academy of American Poets Chancellor Alberto Ríos.
About Brute, 2018 Walt Whitman Award judge Joy Harjo says: “Brute, though a collection of singular poems, is essentially one long elegiac howl for the end of a relationship. It never lets up—this living—even when the world as we knew it is crushed. So what do we do with the brokenness? We document it, as Emily Skaja has done in Brute. We sing of the brokenness as we emerge from it. We sing the holy objects, the white moths that fly from our mouths, and we stand with the new, wet earth that has been created with our terrible songs.”
Emily Skaja was born and raised in northern Illinois. She received an MFA in creative writing from Purdue University. Her honors include the Association of Writers & Writing Programs Intro Journals Project Award; the Gulf Coast Poetry Prize; the Russell Prize from Two Sylvias Press; and the Thomas H. Scholl and Elizabeth Boyd Thompson Poetry Prize. She is the associate poetry editor of Southern Indiana Review and a Taft Research fellow at the University of Cincinnati, where she is finishing a PhD in creative writing and literature with a certificate in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies. She lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.
About Joy Harjo
Joy Harjo received the 2015 Wallace Stevens Award for proven mastery in the art of poetry by the Academy of American Poets. She is a professor of English and American Indian studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her honors include fellowships and grants from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, the Witter Bynner Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as the PEN Open Book Award. Harjo’s books of poetry include Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings (W. W. Norton, 2015), How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems (W. W. Norton, 2002), and A Map to the Next World: Poems (W. W. Norton, 2000).
About the Academy of American Poets
The Academy of American Poets is the nation’s largest membership-based nonprofit organization fostering an appreciation for contemporary poetry and supporting American poets. The organization produces, National Poetry Month, the popular Poem-a-Day series, American Poets magazine, resources for K-12 educators, an annual series of poetry readings and special events, and the Academy of American Poets Prizes, a suite of major awards that recognize emerging and established poets.
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 six hundred 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
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