Poet Jenny Xie has won the Academy of American Poets’ Walt Whitman Award, the nation’s largest prize for a debut poetry collection. Xie’s manuscript, Eye Level, will be published by Graywolf Press in 2018.
In addition to publication, Xie will receive $5,000 and a six-week residency at the Civitella Ranierei Center in Umbria, Italy, and will also be featured on the Academy’s website, poets.org, and in its print periodical, American Poets.
United States Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera selected Xie as this year’s winner. About Eye Level, Herrara writes: “‘Between Hanoi and Sapa’ this collection begins and continues with its ‘frugal mouth’ that ‘spends the only foreign words it owns.’ This knowing ‘travels’ in a spiral-shaped wisdom. We go places; we enter multiple terrains of seeing; we cross cultural borders of time, voices, locations—of consciousness. Then—we notice we are in a trembling stillness with all beings and all things. Jenny Xie’s Eye Level is a timely collection of beauty, clarity, and expansive humanity.”
Jenny Xie holds degrees from Princeton University and New York University’s Creative Writing Program, and has received fellowships from Kundiman, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the Elizabeth George Foundation, and Poets & Writers. She is the author of the chapbook Nowhere to Arrive, which won the 2016 Drinking Gourd Chapbook Prize, and her poems are published or forthcoming in the New Republic, Tin House, Narrative, and elsewhere. Born in Hefei, China, and raised in New Jersey, Xie lives in Brooklyn, New York and teaches at New York University.
Established in 1975, the Walt Whitman Award is designed to encourage the work of emerging poets. Previous recipients include Suji Kwock Kim, Eric Pankey, Matt Rasmussen, Alberto Ríos, and Mai Der Vang, whose book, Afterland, will be published by Graywolf next month.