New York, NY (April 3, 2024)—Celebrated poet Victoria Chang has selected Robin Walter’s upcoming debut Little Mercy as the recipient of the 2024 Academy of American Poets’ First Book Award.

Walter’s manuscript will be published by Graywolf Press, a leading nonprofit publisher of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry in the United States, in April 2025. She will receive $5,000 plus a six-week residency at the Civitella Ranieri Center in Umbria, Italy. The Academy of American Poets will feature Walter’s poetry on and in American Poets, its biannual members’ magazine which goes out to ten thousand readers and serves as a platform for new work by both upcoming and established poets. The Academy will also purchase thousands of copies of Little Mercy to send to its members, making it one of the most widely distributed poetry books of the year. 

Since 1975, the Academy of American Poets’ First Book Award has ushered new volumes of poetry by some of today’s most exciting new voices. Part of the Academy’s suite of major awards given to poets and translators at every stage of their career, the First Book Prize, currently made possible by financial support from the organization’s members, honors the lasting contributions emerging poets make to the art form and our communities, giving them access to wider readerships all over the nation and the world. Previous recipients include Kweku Abimbola, Kemi Alabi, Suji Kwock Kim, Matt Rasmussen, former Academy Chancellor Alberto Ríos, Sara Daniele Rivera, Mai Der Vang, and Jenny Xie.

About Walter’s winning manuscript, Chang wrote: “The beautiful and meditative poems in Little Mercy are painterly, showcasing a perceptive speaker with a keen eye. These poems quietly and gently ask 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. They ask us to look again and again at the daily transparent beauties in the natural world. The first person speaker is the one asking us, but this person is barely in the poems, reminding me of the Chinese landscape paintings where the mountain is huge and the person is tiny in a corner. Nature in these paintings and in these poems is to be revered. There are small trumpets of beauty everywhere in these poems: ‘In the dry season, // timothy grass / comes into the sleeve // of its stem // & the creek slips // underground / without anyone’s // noticing.’ This isn’t entirely true because the speaker of these melodious and wise poems has noticed." 

About Robin Walter

Robin Walter was born in Colorado Springs. She received a BA from Colorado College and an MFA from Colorado State University. Her honors include an Academy of American Poets University and College Poetry Prize from Colorado State University, and the Merriam Frontier Award for Poetry. She teaches at Colorado State University and lives in Fort Collins.

About Victoria Chang

Victoria Chang’s books of poems include, most recently,  With My Back to the World (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2024); The Trees Witness Everything (Copper Canyon Press, 2022), which was named one of the Best Books of 2022 by The New Yorker and the Guardian; Dear Memory (Milkweed Editions, 2021); and OBIT (Copper Canyon Press, 2020), a National Book Award nominee and winner of the 2018 Alice Fay Di Castagnola Award from the Poetry Society of America, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the PEN/Voelcker Award. The recipient of a 2017 Guggenheim Fellowship and the 2023 Chowdhury Prize in Literature, Chang served as poetry editor of The New York Times Magazine in 2022 and was the Poem-a-Day Guest Editor in May 2019. She lives in Los Angeles. 

About the Academy of American Poets

Celebrating its ninetieth anniversary in 2024, the Academy of American Poets is a leading publisher of contemporary poetry across the country. The organization annually awards $1.3+ million to more than two hundred poets at various stages of their careers through its prize program. It also produces, the world’s largest publicly funded website for poets and poetry; established and organizes National Poetry Month each April; publishes the Poem-a-Day series and American Poets magazine; provides free resources to educators; 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 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 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.