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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 2014 Jackson Poetry Prize recipient is Claudia Rankine. Poets Tracy K. Smith, David St. John, and Mark Strand served as judges. Their citation for Ms. Rankine reads as follows:
"The moral vision of Claudia Rankine’s poetry is astounding. In a body of work that pushes the boundaries of the contemporary lyric, Rankine has managed to make space for meditation and vigorous debate upon some of the most relevant and troubling social themes of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Maintaining a firm grasp upon the tools we normally associate with the lyric poet, such as associative shifts and leaps, allusion, sonic agility, elegy, and a deep and resonant imagery, Rankine’s poems also foster a quite nearly cinematic sense of suspense, striking notes of urgency, anxiety, and momentous inevitability. In particular, the collections Don’t Let Me Be Lonely and Citizen: An American Lyric invite the reader to empathize with the social 'other,' with victims of violent aggression committed in hatred and ignorance, and with speakers subject to a more generalized American malaise. These poems do the work of art of the highest order—teaching, chastening, changing, astounding, and humanizing the reader. It was very easy to discern the value of this poet’s body of work. In both vision and voice she has distinguished herself as a singular perspective, a consummate talent, and a courageous spirit. We are unanimous and enthusiastic in our decision to award her the 2014 Jackson Poetry Prize."
Photo: John Lucas.
Past winners of the Jackson Poetry Prize are:
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 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.