Jackson Poetry Prize

The Jackson Poetry Prize honors an American poet of exceptional talent. 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 2021 prize carries a monetary value of $75,000 and is designed to provide what all poets need: time and 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 2021 Jackson Poetry Prize recipient is Carl Phillips. Poets Jericho Brown, Carolyn Forché, and Juan Felipe Herrera served as judges.

Read the 2021 Press Release

Carl Phillips (Credit: Reston Allen)

In selecting Phillips as the fifteenth recipient of the prize, the judges issued the following citation:

Carl Phillips has yet to write a book (or a page in any book) that does not hold in high regard the idea of a poem as an exact and necessary reaching beyond the self toward relation with the world. Phillips is a love poet; he wants to know what one human has to do with another, what one owes another, and how all of this translates into desire and the capacity to inspire moral or immoral reactions: “…There’s a series of/rooms where everything between what I remember of us/for a time took place—each room/like this room; not much larger./Not that I’d go back there.” His work seems instinctive, and yet is clearly and artfully perfected. His sinuous, periodic sentences allow for the following of a single thought until that thought becomes revelatory: the poems become what they are as we are reading them because Phillips allows for realizations and arrivals while writing them. He allows for dissolution and passage, time and timelessness, the body and the fog, all in flight, ungraspable wounded depths, fractals of being. His vulnerability and intimate risk-taking leave us with the feeling that he had no choice but to write them, as the reader has no choice but to see affirmed the chronicle of a life deeply lived. Carl Phillips is one of the most influential poets of our time because he builds—line by unrelenting line—poems that sustain our contemplation, disrupt our complacencies, and leave us changed.

Past Winners of the Jackson Poetry Prize

2020 - Ed Roberson
Judges: Nikky Finney, Anne Waldman, Robert Wrigley

2019 - Joy Harjo
Judges: Ada Limón, Alicia Ostriker, D. A. Powell

2018 - John Yau
Judges: Laura Kasischke, Robin Coste Lewis, Arthur Sze 

2017 - Patricia Spears Jones
Judges: Henri Cole, Kwame Dawes, Mary Szybist

2016 - Will Alexander
Judges: Elizabeth Alexander, Rae Armantrout, and Terrance Hayes

2015 - X. J. Kennedy
Judges:  Heather McHugh, Vijay Seshadri, and Rosanna Warren

2014 - Claudia Rankine
Judges: Tracy K. Smith, David St. John, and 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 a recording of the June 29, 2021 Jackson Poetry Prize Celebration, honoring Carl Phillips and Ed Roberson

View Photos of the Tenth Anniversary Celebration