List of winners of the Walt Whitman Award

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The Walt Whitman Award
Awarded forEncourage the work of emerging poets and to enable the publication of a poet’s first book
CountryUnited States
Presented byAcademy of American Poets
First awarded1975

The Walt Whitman Award is a poetry award administered by the Academy of American Poets.[1][2][3][4] Named after poet Walt Whitman, the award is based on a competition of book-length poetry manuscripts by American poets who have not yet published a book.[5] It has been described as "a transformative honor that includes publication and distribution of the book though the Academy, $5,000 in cash and an all-expenses-paid six-week residency at the Civitella Ranieri Center in the Umbrian region of Italy. The Library of Congress includes the Award among distinctions noted for poets,[6] as does The New York Times, which also occasionally publishes articles about new awards.[7]

The award was established in 1975. In a New York Times opinion piece from 1985, the novelist John Barth noted that 1475 manuscripts had been entered into one of the Whitman Award competitions, which exceeded the number of subscribers to some poetry journals.[8] Since 1992, Louisiana State University Press has published each volume as part of its "Walt Whitman Award Series";[9] the Academy purchases and distributes copies to its associate members, along with copies of the winning volume for the James Laughlin Award.[10] Since the academy buys 6,000 copies for its members, and the average print run for a poet's first book is 3,000 copies, a Whitman Award guarantees a best seller in the tiny poetry market.[11]


Year Poet Book Judge
2020 Threa Almontaser The Wild Fox of Yemen (Graywolf Press) Harryette Mullen
2019 Leah Naomi Green The More Extravagant Feast (Graywolf Press) Li-Young Lee[12]
2018 Emily Skaja Brute (Graywolf Press) Joy Harjo
2017 Jenny Xie Eye Level (Graywolf Press) Juan Felipe Herrera
2016 Mai Der Vang Afterland (Graywolf Press) Carolyn Forché
2015 Sjohnna McCray Rapture (Graywolf Press) Tracy K. Smith
2014 Hannah Sanghee Park[13] The Same-Different (LSU Press) Rae Armantrout
2013 Chris Hosea Put Your Hands In (LSU Press) John Ashbery
2012 Matt Rasmussen Black Aperture (LSU Press) Jane Hirshfield
2011 Elana Bell[14] Eyes, Stones (LSU Press) Fanny Howe
2010 Carl Adamshick Curses and Wishes (LSU Press) Marvin Bell
2009 J. Michael Martinez[15] Heredities (LSU Press)[16] Juan Felipe Herrera
2008 Jonathan Thirkield[17] The Waker's Corridor (LSU Press) Linda Bierds
2007 Sally Van Doren[18] Sex at Noon Taxes (LSU Press) August Kleinzahler
2006 Anne Pierson Wiese[19] Floating City (LSU Press) Kay Ryan
2005 Mary Rose O'Reilley Half Wild (LSU Press) Mary Oliver
2004 Geri Doran Resin (LSU Press) Henri Cole
2003 Tony Tost Invisible Bride (LSU Press) Carolyn D. Wright
2002 Sue Kwock Kim[20] Notes from the Divided Country (LSU Press) Yusef Komunyakaa
2001 John Canaday The Invisible World (LSU Press) Sherod Santos
2000 Ben Doller Radio, Radio (LSU Press) Susan Howe
1999 Judy Jordan Carolina Ghost Woods (LSU Press) James Tate
1998 Jan Heller Levi Once I Gazed at You in Wonder (LSU Press) Alice Fulton
1997 Barbara Ras Bite Every Sorrow (LSU Press) C. K. Williams
1996 Joshua Clover Madonna anno domini (LSU Press) Jorie Graham
1995 Nicole Cooley Resurrection (LSU Press) Cynthia Macdonald
1994 Jan Richman Because the Brain Can Be Talked into Anything (LSU Press) Robert Pinsky
1993 Alison Hawthorne Deming Science and Other Poems (LSU Press) Gerald Stern
1992 Stephen Yenser The Fire in All Things (LSU Press) Richard Howard
1991 Greg Glazner From the Iron Chair (W. W. Norton) Charles Wright
1990 Elaine Terranova The Cult of the Right Hand (Doubleday) Rita Dove
1989 Martha Hollander The Game of Statues (Atlantic Monthly Press) W.S. Merwin
1988 April Bernard Blackbird Bye Bye (Random House) Amy Clampitt
1987 Judith Baumel The Weight of Numbers (Wesleyan U. Press) Mona Van Duyn
1986 Chris Llewellyn Fragments from the Fire (Viking) Maxine Kumin
1985 Christianne Balk Bindweed (Macmillan) Anthony Hecht
1984 Eric Pankey For the New Year (Atheneum) Mark Strand
1983 Christopher Gilbert[21] Across the Mutual Landscape (Graywolf Press) Michael S. Harper
1982 Anthony Petrosky Jurgis Petraskas (Louisiana State University Press) Philip Levine
1981 Alberto Ríos Whispering to Fool the Wind (Sheep Meadow Press) Donald Justice
1980 Jared Carter[22] Work, for the Night is Coming (Macmillan) Galway Kinnell
1979 David Bottoms Shooting Rats at the Bibb County Dump (Morrow) Robert Penn Warren
1978 Karen Snow[23] Wonders (Viking) Louis Simpson
1977 Lauren Shakely Guilty Bystander (Random House) Diane Wakoski
1976 Laura Crafton Gilpin The Hocus-Pocus of the Universe (Doubleday) William Stafford
1975 Reg Saner Climbing into the Roots (Harper & Row) William Meredith


  1. ^ Nancy Breen, ed. (2007). 2008 Poet's Market. Cincinnati, Ohio: Writer's Digest Books. p. 412. ISBN 978-1-58297-499-6.
  2. ^ "Walt Whitman Award | Poets & Writers". Archived from the original on 2009-07-12. Retrieved 2009-06-11.
  3. ^ "Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets: BOOKS IN THIS SERIES". LSU Press. Archived from the original on 2008-10-07.
  4. ^ "Walt Whitman Award". awardsandhonors.
  5. ^ "Walt Whitman Award". Academy of American Poets. Archived from the original on 2009-07-07. Retrieved 2009-05-04.
  6. ^ "Authors Jared Carter and Debra Magpie Earling To Read on Dec. 9". The Library of Congress. December 6, 2004.
  7. ^ Blog, Newoldage. "Walt Whitman Award - Search". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-06-14.
  8. ^ Barth, John (June 16, 1985). "Writing: Can It Be Taught?". The New York Times.
  9. ^ "Series: Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets". Louisiana State University Press. Archived from the original on 2008-10-07. Retrieved 2009-06-14.
  10. ^ "Membership". Academy of American Poets. Archived from the original on 2009-03-03. Retrieved 2009-05-20.
  11. ^ JUDITH MILLER (December 2, 1996). "As Arts Prizes Multiply, So Do Doubts on Value". The New York Times.
  12. ^ "Walt Whitman Award". Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  13. ^ "Poet receives high praise from Pulitzer winner - USC News". 16 April 2014. Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  14. ^ "Elana Bell Receives the 2011 Walt Whitman Award". news release. April 21, 2011.
  15. ^ Dallas Lee (May 6, 2009). "Walt Whitman, the sublime and the Bibb County Dump". Like the Dew.
  16. ^ "ISS - CULTURE BEAT: Walt Whitman, the sublime and the Bibb County Dump". Archived from the original on 2011-09-27. Retrieved 2009-06-11.
  17. ^ "UI grads win poetry awards". The Cedar Rapids Gazette. August 10, 2008.
  18. ^ "Award turns poems into a book". The St. Louis Times Dispatch. April 8, 2007.
  19. ^ "American life in poetry: Columbus Park". Duluth News Tribune. October 7, 2007.
  20. ^ "Poet's Lines Earning Headlines". Chosun Ilbo. Jun 16, 2003. Archived from the original on August 12, 2004. Retrieved June 11, 2009.
  21. ^ ALAN WILLIAMSON (June 23, 1985). "LOSS, DISCOVERY AND OTHER URGENIES". The New York Times.
  22. ^ "Poetry Prize". The Luddington Daily News. June 13, 1980.
  23. ^ THOMAS LASK (April 14, 1978). "Publishing: Award For 'New' Poet, 54". The New York Times.