Jackson Poetry Prize

The Jackson Poetry Prize honors a 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 2022 prize carries a monetary value of $80,000. 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 2022 Jackson Poetry Prize recipient is Sonia Sanchez. Acclaimed poets Mary Jo Bang, Marilyn Chin, and Claudia Rankine served as judges.

Read the 2022 Press Release.

Watch the virtual celebration honoring Sonia Sanchez.

Sonia Sanchez (Credit: Tom Hallock)

In selecting Sanchez as the sixteenth recipient of the prize, the judges issued the following citation:

Over her seven-decade career, Sonia Sanchez has distinguished herself as a major figure in American letters. A founding member of the Black Arts Movement, she has taught generations of poets—creating essential spaces for Black Studies where none previously existed. Her contributions to the literary landscape include plays, short fiction, essays, and groundbreaking anthologies, but it is her innovative and essential poetry, recently collected in Collected Poems: Sonia Sanchez (Beacon Press, 2021), that the judges wished to recognize with this award. Her vast and commanding oeuvre of published poetry invokes the power, and revolutionary properties of language itself—intoning the struggles and joys of entire communities, while reinvigorating traditional forms. As Toni Morrison said, “You have spoken for us...Written for us...Sung to us...How much in your debt we are.” Sonia Sanchez is a national treasure.  

Past Winners of the Jackson Poetry Prize

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