Emily Skaja wins 2018 Walt Whitman Award

Emily Skaja has been announced as winner of the 2018 Walt Whitman Award for her full-length poetry manuscript, Brute. The prize was judged by Joy Harjo, a renowned poet and activist and professor of English and American Indian studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The win comes with the sum of $5000, the publication of Brute by Graywolf Press in April 2019, a six-week residency at Civitella Ranieri Center in Umbri, Italy, all expenses-paid. Copies of Brute will also be bought in thousands and distributed to members of the Academy of American Poets, organizers of the prize.

Initiated as a first-book poetry prize and as encouragement for poets, the Walt Whitman Award was established in 1975. Past winners of this prestigious award include: Jenny Xie, Nicole Cooley, Suji Kwock Kim, Alberto Rios, Mai Der Vang, Eric Pankey, Elanna Bell, Carl Adamshick, Tony Tost, Judy Jordan, Karen Snow, Stephen Yenser, Barbara Ras. Submissions for the Walt Whitman Award are accepted from September 1st through November 1st each year.

Speaking about Emily’s manuscript, Joy Harjo said: “Brute, though a collection of singular poems, is essentially one long elegiac howl for the end of a relationship. It never lets up—this living—even when the world as we knew it is crushed. So what do we do with the brokenness? We document it, as Emily Skaja has done in Brute. We sing of the brokenness as we emerge from it. We sing the holy objects, the white moths that fly from our mouths, and we stand with the new, wet earth that has been created with our terrible songs.”

Currently a Taft Research fellow at the University of Cincinnati, where she is finishing a Ph.D, Emily Skaja is the associate poetry editor of Southern Indiana Review and has received the following honors and awards: Association of Writers & Writing Programs Intro Journals Project Award; the Gulf Coast Poetry Prize; the Thomas H. Scholl and Elizabeth Boyd Thompson Poetry Prize.

A very striking line from one of her poems reads: “anyone can be the sky”. Emily Skaja speaks poetry with the precision of birds, moonlight and waterfalls. Take it from me,  Emily Skaja is a Pulitzer Prize candidate and she will win more awards—and not just awards, her poetry will touch souls greatly.