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 2023 prize carries a monetary value of $85,000. 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 2023 Jackson Poetry Prize recipient is Sandra Lim. Poets Joy Harjo, Carl Phillips, and John Yau, each a past recipient of the prize, served as judges.

Read the 2023 Press Release.

Sandra Lim (Credit: Young Suh)

In selecting Lim as the seventeenth recipient of the prize, the judges issued the following citation:

It’s tempting to think of Sandra Lim as a philosopher poet, in the school of Marcus Aurelius—her poems address the conundrum of being a self with fears and feelings in spite of the mortality that should in theory put us at ease. Wielding a striking combination of cool detachment and sly humor, Lim constantly points to the mundane aspects of the world and to how we nevertheless cling to them, always expecting something more

….feelings keep opening their myriad dark
flowers for you, their thousand petals of thought.

Lim confronts the larger, defining abstractions of our lives—love, death, betrayal, the power dynamics of body and soul—in poems that ultimately defy easy category, refuse expectation, and have quietly challenged and reinvigorated the possibilities for what a poem can do, and how. It’s a poetry of interrogation, whose fierceness lies, paradoxically, in its quiet steadiness and precision.

To purchase books by Sandra Lim as well as past winners of the Jackson Poetry Prize, visit Bookshop.org.

Past Winners of the Jackson Poetry Prize

2022 - Sonia Sanchez
Judges: Mary Jo Bang, Marilyn Chin, and Claudia Rankine

2021 - Carl Phillips
Judges: Jericho Brown, Carolyn Forché, and Juan Felipe Herrera

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 Photos of the Tenth Anniversary Celebration