Poetry

Finalists have been announced since 1980.

Winners

2014 3 Sections by Vijay Seshadri (Graywolf Press)

A compelling collection of poems that examine human consciousness, from birth to dementia, in a voice that is by turns witty and grave, compassionate and remorseless.

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2013 Stag's Leap by Sharon Olds (Alfred A. Knopf)

A book of unflinching poems on the author’s divorce that examine love, sorrow and the limits of self-knowledge.

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2012 Life on Mars by Tracy K. Smith (Graywolf Press)

A collection of bold, skillful poems, taking readers into the universe and moving them to an authentic mix of joy and pain.

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2011 The Best of It: New and Selected Poems by Kay Ryan (Grove/Atlantic)

A body of work spanning 45 years, witty, rebellious and yet tender, a treasure trove of an iconoclastic and joyful mind.

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2010 Versed by Rae Armantrout (Wesleyan University Press)

A book striking for its wit and linguistic inventiveness, offering poems that are often little thought-bombs detonating in the mind long after the first reading.

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2009 The Shadow of Sirius by W.S. Merwin (Copper Canyon Press)

A collection of luminous, often tender poems that focus on the profound power of memory.

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2008 Time and Materials by Robert Hass (Ecco/HarperCollins)
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2008 Failure by Philip Schultz (Harcourt)
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2007 Native Guard by Natasha Trethewey (Houghton Mifflin)
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2006 Late Wife by Claudia Emerson (Louisiana State University Press)
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2005 Delights & Shadows by Ted Kooser (Copper Canyon Press)
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2004 Walking to Martha's Vineyard by Franz Wright (Alfred A. Knopf)
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2003 Moy Sand and Gravel by Paul Muldoon (Farrar)
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2002 Practical Gods by Carl Dennis (Penguin Books)
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2001 Different Hours by Stephen Dunn (W.W. Norton & Company)
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2000 Repair by C.K. Williams (Farrar)
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1999 Blizzard of One by Mark Strand (Alfred A. Knopf)
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1998 Black Zodiac by Charles Wright (Farrar)
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1997 Alive Together: New and Selected Poems by Lisel Mueller (Louisiana State University Press)
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1996 The Dream of the Unified Field by Jorie Graham (The Ecco Press)
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1995 The Simple Truth by Philip Levine (Alfred A. Knopf)
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1994 Neon Vernacular: New and Selected Poems by Yusef Komunyakaa (Wesleyan University Press/University Press of New England)
1993 The Wild Iris by Louise Gluck (The Ecco Press)
1992 Selected Poems by James Tate (Wesleyan University Press)
1991 Near Changes by Mona Van Duyn (Alfred A. Knopf)
1990 The World Doesn't End by Charles Simic (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich)
1989 New and Collected Poems by Richard Wilbur (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich)
1988 Partial Accounts: New and Selected Poems by William Meredith (Alfred A. Knopf)
1987 Thomas and Beulah by Rita Dove (Carnegie-Mellon University Press)
1986 The Flying Change by Henry Taylor (Louisiana State University Press)
1985 Yin by Carolyn Kizer (BOA Editions)
1984 American Primitive by Mary Oliver (Atlanti'Little)
1983 Selected Poems by Galway Kinnell (Houghton Mifflin)
1982 The Collected Poems by the late Sylvia Plath (a posthumous publication) (Harper & Row)
1981 The Morning of the Poem by James Schuyler (Farrar)
1980 Selected Poems by Donald Justice (Atheneum)
1979 Now and Then by Robert Penn Warren (Random)
1978 Collected Poems by Howard Nemerov (Univ. of Chicago)
1977 Divine Comedies by James Merrill (Atheneum)
1976 Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror by John Ashbery (Viking)
1975 Turtle Island by Gary Snyder (New Directions)
1974 The Dolphin by Robert Lowell (Farrar)
1973 Up Country by Maxine Kumin (Harper)
1972 Collected Poems by James Wright (Wesleyan Univ. Press)
1971 The Carrier of Ladders by William S. Merwin (Atheneum)
1970 Untitled Subjects by Richard Howard (Atheneum)
1969 Of Being Numerous by George Oppen (New Directions)
1968 The Hard Hours by Anthony Hecht (Atheneum)
1967 Live or Die by Anne Sexton (Houghton)
1966 Selected Poems by Richard Eberhart (New Directions)
1965 77 Dream Songs by John Berryman (Farrar)
1964 At The End Of The Open Road by Louis Simpson (Wesleyan Univ. Press)
1963 Pictures from Brueghel by the late William Carlos Williams (New Directions)
1962 Poems by Alan Dugan (Yale Univ. Press)
1961 Times Three: Selected Verse From Three Decades by Phyllis McGinley (Viking)
1960 Heart's Needle by W. D. Snodgrass (Knopf)
1959 Selected Poems 1928-1958 by Stanley Kunitz (Little)
1958 Promises: Poems 1954-1956 by Robert Penn Warren (Random)
1957 Things of This World by Richard Wilbur (Harcourt)
1956 Poems: North & South - A Cold Spring by Elizabeth Bishop (Houghton)
1955 Collected Poems by Wallace Stevens (Knopf)
1954 The Waking by Theodore Roethke (Doubleday)
1953 Collected Poems 1917-1952 by Archibald MacLeish (Houghton)
1952 Collected Poems by Marianne Moore (Macmillan)
1951 Complete Poems by Carl Sandburg (Harcourt)
1950 Annie Allen by Gwendolyn Brooks (Harper)
1949 Terror and Decorum by Peter Viereck (Scribner)
1948 The Age of Anxiety by W. H. Auden (Random)
1947 Lord Weary's Castle by Robert Lowell (Harcourt)
1946 (No Award)
1945 V-Letter and Other Poems by Karl Shapiro (Reynal)
1944 Western Star by the late Stephen Vincent Benet (Farrar)
1943 A Witness Tree by Robert Frost (Holt)
1942 The Dust Which Is God by William Rose Benet (Dodd)
1941 Sunderland Capture by Leonard Bacon (Harper)
1940 Collected Poems by Mark Van Doren (Holt)
1939 Selected Poems by John Gould Fletcher (Farrar)
1938 Cold Morning Sky by Marya Zaturenska (Macmillan)
1937 A Further Range by Robert Frost (Holt)
1936 Strange Holiness by Robert P. Tristram Coffin (Macmillan)
1935 Bright Ambush by Audrey Wurdemann (John Day)
1934 Collected Verse by Robert Hillyer (Knopf)
1933 Conquistador by Archibald Macleish (Houghton)
1932 The Flowering Stone by George Dillon (Viking)
1931 Collected Poems by Robert Frost (Holt)
1930 Selected Poems by Conrad Aiken (Scribner)
1929 John Browns Body by Stephen Vincent Benet (Farrar)
1928 Tristram by Edwin Arlington Robinson (Macmillan)
1927 Fiddler's Farewell by Leonora Speyer (Knopf)
1926 What's O'Clock by the late Amy Lowell (Houghton)
1925 The Man Who Died Twice by Edwin Arlington Robinson (Macmillan)
1924 New Hampshire: A Poem with Notes and Grace Notes by Robert Frost (Holt)
1923 The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver: A Few Figs from Thistles: Eight Sonnets in American Poetry, 1922. A Miscellany by Edna St. Vincent Millay (Harper)
1922 Collected Poems by Edwin Arlington Robinson (Macmillan)
1919 Corn Huskers by Carl Sandburg

This award was made possible by a special grant from The Poetry Society.

1919 Old Road to Paradise by Margaret Widdemer

This award was made possible by a special grant from The Poetry Society.

1918 Love Songs by Sara Teasdale

This award was made possible by a special grant from The Poetry Society.

Finalists

2014 The Sleep of Reason by Morri Creech (The Waywiser Press)

A book of masterly poems that capture the inner experience of a man in mid-life who is troubled by mortality and the passage of time, traditional themes that are made to feel new.

2014 The Big Smoke by Adrian Matejka (Penguin)

An imaginative work by a commanding poet who engages the history and mythology of larger-than-life boxer Jack Johnson.

2013 Collected Poems by the late Jack Gilbert (Alfred A. Knopf)

A half century of poems reflecting a creative author’s commitment to living fully and honestly and to producing straightforward work that illuminates everyday experience with startling clarity.

2013 The Abundance of Nothing by Bruce Weigl (TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern)

A powerful collection of poems that explore the trauma of the Vietnam War and the feelings that have never left many of those who fought in the conflict.

2012 Core Samples from the World by Forrest Gander (New Directions)

A compelling work that explores cross-cultural tensions in the world and digs deeply to identify what is essential in human experience.

2012 How Long by Ron Padgett (Coffee House Press)

An enchanting collection of poems that juggle delight, wit and endless fascination with language.

2011 The Common Man by Maurice Manning (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

A rich, often poignant collection of poems rooted in a rural Kentucky experiencing change in its culture and landscape.

2011 Break the Glass by Jean Valentine (Copper Canyon Press)

A collection of imaginative poems in which small details can accrue great power and a reader is never sure where any poem might lead.

2010 Tryst by Angie Estes (Oberlin College Press)

A collection of poems remarkable for its variety of subjects, array of genres and nimble use of language.

2010 Inseminating the Elephant by Lucia Perillo (Copper Canyon Press)

A collection of poems, often laced with humor, that examine popular culture, the limits of the human body and the tragicomic aspects of everyday experience.

2009 Watching the Spring Festival by Frank Bidart (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

A book of lyric poems that evinces compassion for the human condition as it explores the constraints that limit the possibility of people changing the course of their lives.

2009 What Love Comes To: New & Selected Poems by Ruth Stone (Copper Canyon Press)

A collection of poems that give rich drama to ordinary experience, deepening our sense of what it means to be human.

2008 Messenger: New and Selected Poems, 1976-2006 by Ellen Bryant Voigt (W.W. Norton)
2007 The Republic of Poetry by Martin Espada (W.W. Norton)
2007 Interrogation Palace: New & Selected Poems 1982-2004 by David Wojahn (University of Pittsburgh Press)
2006 American Sublime by Elizabeth Alexander (Graywolf Press)
2006 Elegy on Toy Piano by Dean Young (University of Pittsburgh Press)
2005 The Orchard by Brigit Pegeen Kelly (BOA Editions)
2005 Search Party: Collected Poems by the late William Matthews (Houghton Mifflin)
2004 Middle Earth by Henri Cole (Farrar)
2004 Eyeshot by Heather McHugh (Wesleyan University Press)
2003 Music Like Dirt by Frank Bidart (Sarabande Books)
2003 Hazmat by J.D. McClatchy (Alfred A.Knopf)
2002 The Seven Ages by Louise Gluck (The ECCO Press/HarperCollins)
2002 The Beforelife by Franz Wright (Alfred A. Knopf)
2001 Pursuit of a Wound by Sydney Lea (University of Illinois Press)
2001 The Other Lover by Bruce Smith (The University of Chicago Press)
2000 Elegy for the Southern Drawl by Rodney Jones (Houghton Mifflin)
2000 Midnight Salvage: Poems 1995-1998 by Adrienne Rich (W.W. Norton)
1999 Mysteries of Small Houses by Alice Notley (Penguin Poets)
1999 Going Fast by Frederick Seidel (Farrar)
1998 Desire by Frank Bidart (Farrar)
1998 The Vigil by C.K. Williams (Farrar)
1997 The Figured Wheel by Robert Pinsky (Farrar Straus Giroux)
1997 The Willow Grove by Laurie Sheck (Alfred A. Knopf)
1996 New and Selected Poems by Donald Justice (Alfred A. Knopf)
1996 Chickamauga by Charles Wright (Farrar Straus and Giroux)
1995 Cosmopolitan Greetings: Poems 1986-1992 by Allen Ginsberg (HarperCollins)
1995 On The Great Atlantic Rainway: Selected Poems 1950-1988 and One Train by Kenneth Koch (Alfred A. Knopf)
1994 Bright Existence by Brenda Hillman (Wesleyan University Press/University Press of New England)
1994 The Metamorphoses of Ovid, translated by Allen Mandelbaum (Harcourt Brace & Company)
1993 Hotel Lautreamont by John Ashbery (Alfred A. Knopf)
1993 Selected Poems 1946-1985 by James Merrill (Alfred A. Knopf)
1992 Selected Poems by Robert Creeley (University of California Press)
1992 An Atlas of the Difficult World by Adrienne Rich (W.W. Norton & Company)
1991 The Transparent Man by Anthony Hecht (Alfred A. Knopf)
1991 Leaving Another Kingdom by Gerald Stern (Harper & Row)
1990 Time's Power by Adrienne Rich (W.W. Norton & Company)
1990 Selected and Last Poems by the late Paul Zweig (Wesleyan University Press)
1989 The One Day by Donald Hall (Ticknor & Fields)
1989 The River of Heaven by Garrett Hongo (Alfred A. Knopf)
1988 Good Woman: Poems and a Memoir 1969-1980 and Next: New Poems by Lucille Clifton (BOA Editions)
1988 Flesh and Blood by C.K. Williams (Farrar)
1987 The Selected Poetry of Hayden Carruth by Hayden Carruth (Macmillan)
1987 Unending Blues by Charles Simic (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich)
1986 Saints and Strangers by Andrew Hudgins (Houghton Mifflin)
1986 Selected Poems, 1963-1983 by Charles Simic (George Braziller)
1985 Ground Work by Robert Duncan (New Directions)
1985 The Other Side of the River by Charles Wright (Random House)
1984 Weather-Fear: New and Selected Poems by John Engels (University of Georgia)
1984 Collected Poems, 1930-1982 by Josephine Miles (University of Illinois)
1983 Monolithos, Poems, 1962 and 1982 by Jack Gilbert (Knopf)
1983 Country Music, Selected Early Poems by Charles Wright (Wesleyan University Press)
1982 Dream Flights by Dave Smith (University of Illinois)
1982 The Southern Cross by Charles Wright (Random House)
1981 The Right Madness on Skye by Richard Hugo (Norton)
1981 Selected Poems by Mark Strand (Atheneum)
1980 Selected Poems by Richard Hugo (Norton)
1980 Goshawk, Antelope by Dave Smith (University of Illinois)