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Jackson Poetry Prize

The Jackson Poetry Prize honors an American poet of exceptional talent who deserves wider recognition. It was established in 2006 with a gift from the Liana Foundation and is named for the John and Susan Jackson family. Eligible poets must have published at least two books of acknowledged literary merit. The $50,000 prize is designed to provide what all poets need—time and the encouragement to write. There is no application process for the Jackson Poetry Prize—nominees are identified by a group of poets selected by Poets & Writers who remain anonymous; final selection is made by a panel of esteemed poets.

The 2015 Jackson Poetry Prize recipient is X. J. Kennedy. Poets Heather McHugh, Vijay Seshadri, and Rosanna Warren served as judges. Their citation for Mr. Kennedey reads as follows:
"X. J. Kennedy’s forms are perennial, his rhetoric is at once elaborate and immediate, and his language and diction are always of the American moment. He translates the human predicament into poetry perfectly balancing wit, savagery, and compassion. His subtly dissonant rhymes and side-stepping meters carry us through the realms of puzzlement and sorrow to an intimated grace. The size of his poems is small but their scope is vast."

Photo: Tim Barrett.

Read the 2015 Press Release

View photos of 2015 Jackson Poetry Prize reception honoring X. J. Kennedy.  

Past winners of the Jackson Poetry Prize are:

2014 - Claudia Rankine
Judges:  Tracy K. Smith, David St. John, Mark Strand

2013 - Arthur Sze

Judges: Reginald Gibbons, Natasha Trethewey, and C. D. Wright

2012 - Henri Cole
Judges: Louise Glück, Marilyn Hacker, and James Tate

2011 - James Richardson
Judges: Mark Doty, Rita Dove, and Gerald Stern

2010 - Harryette Mullen
Judges: Fanny Howe, Ted Kooser, and C.K. Williams

2009 - Linda Gregg
Judges: Brenda Hillman, Edward Hirsch, and Charles Simic

2008 - Tony Hoagland
Judges: Philip Levine, Robert Pinsky, and Ellen Bryant Voigt

2007 - Elizabeth Alexander
Judges: Lucille Clifton, Stephen Dunn, and Jane Hirshfield

View photos of 2014 Jackson Poetry Prize reception honoring Claudia Rankine.  

View photos of the 2013 Jackson Poetry Prize reading honoring Arthur Sze.

View photos of the 2012 Jackson Poetry Prize reading honoring Henri Cole.

View videos of Harryette Mullen reading her work at a Poets & Writers event.

View a video of Linda Gregg reading her work at a Poets & Writers event.

View a video of Tony Hoagland reading his work at a Poets & Writers event.

View a video of Elizabeth Alexander reading her work at a Poets & Writers event.

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