Sandra Lim Wins Jackson Poetry Prize, $85,000 Award

“Lim confronts the larger, defining abstractions of our lives”

Sandra Lim (Credit: Young Suh)

New York, NY—April 19, 2023—Poets & Writers announced today that Sandra Lim has won the 2023 Jackson Poetry Prize. The prize is awarded annually by Poets & Writers to recognize an American poet of exceptional talent. Endowed by John and Susan Jackson, this year’s prize carries a monetary award of $85,000.

Lim was selected by three esteemed judges who are each a previous recipient of the Jackson Poetry Prize: Joy Harjo, Carl Phillips, and John Yau. In identifying Lim as this year’s winner, the judges issued a citation that reads, in part:

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….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.

The Jackson Poetry Prize is one of the most generous awards offered to an American poet. Administered by Poets & Writers, it is endowed by a gift from the Liana Foundation and is named for the John and Susan Jackson family. There is no application process; poets are nominated by a panel of their peers who remain anonymous. Learn more about the Jackson Poetry Prize here.

Lim, the seventeenth winner of the prize, is the author of three books of poetry and is a professor of English at University of Massachusetts Lowell. Upon learning that she won this year’s Jackson Poetry Prize, Lim said, “I’m gobsmacked—but so grateful to the judges for their encouragement. I am heartened by their belief in my work, it emboldens me to no end.” Poets & Writers will host a celebration in honor of Sandra Lim this spring.


Sandra Lim’s latest book of poetry is The Curious Thing (W.W. Norton, 2021), a 2022 Massachusetts Book Award “must-read.” Her previous collections include The Wilderness (W.W. Norton, 2014), winner of the Barnard Women Poets Prize, and Loveliest Grotesque (Kore Press, 2006), winner of the Kore Press First Book Award. Other honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship, an American Academy of Arts and Letters Literature Award, and the Levis Reading Prize for The Wilderness. Her writing has appeared widely in journals and anthologies such as the New York Review of Books, Poetry, the Baffler, Gulf Coast, the New York Times, the New Republic, and elsewhere. She is a professor of English at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and is also on the poetry faculty of the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers. Born in Seoul, Korea, she lives in Cambridge, MA.


Poets & Writers is the primary source of information, support, and guidance for poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers in the United States. Our mission is to foster the professional development of poets and writers, to promote communication throughout the literary community, and to help create an environment in which literature can be appreciated by the widest possible public.

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