Will Alexander Wins Jackson Poetry Prize

New York, NY – April 7, 2016 – Will Alexander is the winner of the tenth annual Jackson Poetry Prize. Poets & Writers, the New York­­–based service organization for creative writers, annually awards the $50,000 prize to an American poet of exceptional talent who deserves wider recognition. The prize is among the most substantial given to an American poet, and is designed to provide what all poets need: time and encouragement to write.

A panel of three esteemed poets—Elizabeth Alexander, Rae Armantrout, and Terrance Hayes—selected Will Alexander as this year’s winner, noting his “peerless inventiveness over the last three decades.” (Elizabeth Alexander, no relation to Will Alexander, was the inaugural winner of the Jackson Poetry Prize in 2007.) The judges issued a citation which reads, in part:

[Alexander’s] work seems shaped according to Arthur Rimbaud’s insistence that “the poet makes himself a seer by a long, prodigious, and rational disordering of all the senses.” In Alexander disordering the senses involves an intimacy that perceives the textures of the natural world, and an openness that perceives the vastness of the cosmos…. It is tempting to label Alexander a surrealist or experimentalist, but he is truly a singular voice. Ultimately, his poetry is rooted in a belief in the transformative powers of language. In Compression and Purity, he writes, “my feeling is that language is capable of creating shifts in the human neural field, capable of transmuting behaviors and judgments.” Will Alexander’s body of work reveals the power of a discursive poetics guided by social prerogative. We hope the 2016 Jackson Prize alerts audiences to one of our most original contemporary poets.

Read the full citation here.

Poet, aphorist, playwright, essayist, philosopher, visual artist, and pianist Will Alexander is a native of Los Angeles. The author of nearly thirty books, his previous awards and honors include a Whiting Fellowship for Poetry in 2001, a California Arts Council Fellowship in 2002, the PEN/Oakland Josephine Miles Award in 2007, and an American Book Award in 2013 for Singing In Magnetic Hoofbeat: Essays, Prose, Texts, Interviews, and a Lecture. Alexander has taught poetry at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics in Boulder, Colorado, and held writer-in-residence positions at the University of California in San Diego, New College of California, and Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. He is currently the poet-in-residence at Beyond Baroque in Venice, California.

The Jackson Prize is made possible by a donation from the Liana Foundation and 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. Previous recipients of the Jackson Poetry Prize are X. J. Kennedy (2015), Claudia Rankine (2014), Arthur Sze (2013), Henri Cole (2012), James Richardson (2011), Harryette Mullen (2010), Linda Gregg (2009), Tony Hoagland (2008), and Elizabeth Alexander (2007).

Poets & Writers will host a reading and reception in honor of Will Alexander in New York City in June; date to be announced shortly. For information about the reading, contact mgradel@pw.org.

About Poets & Writers

Founded in 1970, Poets & Writers is the nation’s largest nonprofit literary organization serving poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers. Our work is rooted in the belief that literature is vital to sustaining a vibrant culture. We focus on nurturing literature’s source: creative writers. 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. Learn more at pw.org.