Recipients Of 2018 American Poets Prizes Announced

The Academy of American Poets is pleased to announce the winners of the 2018 American Poets Prizes, which are among the most valuable poetry prizes in the United States. This year the organization has awarded over $200,000 to poets at various stages of their careers.


SONIA SANCHEZ 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.


Poet, playwright, and children's book author Sonia Sanchez has published more than a dozen poetry collections, including Morning Haiku (Beacon Press, 2010) and Shake Loose My Skin: New and Selected Poems (Beacon Press, 1999). Her many honors include the 2009 Robert Creeley Award, the Frost Medal, the Pennsylvania Governor's Award for Excellence in the Humanities, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. Sanchez lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

About Sanchez, Academy of American Poets Chancellor Terrance Hayes said: "The formal virtuosity Sonia Sanchez has honed across five decades of poetry collections is tenaciously rooted in the transforming social power of art. Her life and poems reflect a steadfast devotion to humanity, a love for womanhood, black culture, and education. Her poems display a masterful fusion of political and spiritual urgencies. They spring from her like songs, prayers, and spells displaying uncompromising artfulness and consciousness. In some West African cultures the griot is protector of memory and culture, part oracle, part archivist. Sonia Sanchez is our peerless griot of American poetry. There is no poet like her in the whole motley canon. There may have never been a more appropriate recipient of an award honoring poetic mastery and originality."

MARTÍN ESPADA has received the ACADEMY OF AMERICAN POETS FELLOWSHIP. Established in 1936 and given in memory of James Ingram Merrill and, beginning this year, 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.

Poet, essayist, and translator Marti?n Espada has authored nearly twenty books, including his most recent poetry collection, Vivas to Those Who Have Failed (W. W. Norton, 2016). Espada's many honors include the 2018 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the 2013 Shelley Memorial Award, the Robert Creeley Award, an American Book Award, the PEN/Revson Fellowship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Espada teaches English at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

About Martín Espada, Academy of American Poets Chancellor Alicia Ostriker said: "Marti?n Espada is a poet of musical richness, passion, high and low comedy, imagistic vibrance, wild metaphor, and storytelling skill, with a sense of history. He is a celebrant of love and a persistent troubler of the waters. As a 'people's poet' he has been called North America's Neruda. In a career spanning more than three decades, he has advocated for and enacted an ideal of poetry knit up with the dream of justice. Eloquent in his homage to those whose names and faces are 'rubbed off by oblivion's thumb like a Roman coin,' laureate of ballparks and boxing rings, exuberant chronicler of immigrant lives and workers' strikes, moving elegist of his feisty Puerto Rican father and of the restaurant employees fallen in the Twin Towers, Marti?n Espada is an essential American poet and true son of Walt Whitman."

CRAIG MORGAN TEICHER's book The Trembling Answers (BOA Editions, 2017) has received the LENORE MARSHALL POETRY PRIZE. Awarded by the Academy of American Poets since 1994, this $25,000 prize is the nation's largest recognizing the most outstanding book of poetry published in the United States in the previous year. Past recipients include Charles Wright, Patricia Smith, and Kevin Young. The judges were Laura Kasischke, Campbell McGrath, and Mary Szybist.

Craig Morgan Teicher is the author of three poetry collections, including To Keep Love Blurry (BOA Editions, 2012) and Brenda Is in the Room and Other Poems (Center for Literary Publishing, 2008), winner of the Colorado Prize for Poetry. His first collection of essays, We Begin in Gladness: How Poets Progress, is forthcoming from Graywolf Press in November 2018. He lives in New Jersey.

About Teicher's winning book, judges Laura Kasischke, Campbell McGrath, and Mary Szybist said: "The Trembling Answers is a collection as ecstatic as it is solemn, and what this poetry shares with us about love, faith, doubt, and poetry itself is essential. From a state of bewilderment to the condition of omniscience, Craig Morgan Teicher's poetry stands simultaneously inside and outside of common understanding, struggling to un-domesticate the mind even as it seeks to more deeply inhabit the intimacies of domestic life. This is a book of unflinching self-scrutiny, by turns meditative, plainspoken, funny, and profound, where answers are not stable solutions but achingly alert responses to the trauma and triumph of human existence."

GEFFREY DAVIS's book Night Angler (BOA Editions, 2019) 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 purchases and distributes copies of the book to thousands of its members. Past recipients include Donald Hall, Sharon Olds, and Vijay Seshadri. The judges were Patricia Spears Jones, Craig Santos Perez, and Prageeta Sharma.

Geffrey Davis is the author of Revising the Storm (BOA Editions, 2014), winner of the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize. Davis is the recipient of fellowships from Bread Loaf, Cave Canem, and the Vermont Studio Center. He teaches in the University of Arkansas' MFA program and The Rainier Writing Workshop and serves as poetry editor for Iron Horse Literary Review.

Judge Craig Santos Perez wrote about Davis's winning book: "The hooked lines of Night Angler fish in the headwaters of memory and the riverine flow of the present. What we catch are poems about coming to terms with a drug-addicted father, coming of age as a 'black boy' in America, and coming through the 'wilderness of worry' as a husband and new parent amid racial violence and environmental injustice. Throughout, the poet displays a fidelity to poetic craft and innovative technique that few second books ever achieve. While you will be lured into this book by its 'blood-song for / the marrowed ache and awe of tomorrow,' you will be released, upon reading the final poem, breathless."

RAQUEL SALAS RIVERA's x/ex/exis (poemas para la nación) (poems for the nation) 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 Academy Chancellor Alberto Ríos.

Raquel Salas Rivera is the author of several other poetry collections, most recently lo terciario/the tertiary (Timeless, Infinite Light, 2018). A CantoMundo fellow, Rivera is the coeditor of Puerto Rico en mi corazo?n, a collection of bilingual broadsides of contemporary Puerto Rico poets. They currently serve as the 2018-2019 poet laureate of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where they live.

About Rivera's winning manuscript, judge Alberto Ríos said: "Winning me over entirely with their fiercely rendered tenderness and emergent sense of a simultaneously tough and tender I, these poems and their speaker are, to use so simple a word for so complex a world, strong. Strong. These poems do not play by formality or easy rules-and are all the more compelling because of that, stretching the idea of rules altogether, rules in all things, from written punctuation to living a life. These poems speak passion and clarity and yearning. More important, they simply speak. In an often wild gallop through language and ideas, unfamiliar leaps across singular experiences, I am thrown off the horse many times, but the speaker keeps talking me repeatedly back into the saddle of these poems."

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