John Yau wins 2018 Jackson Poetry Prize

Poet, art critic, professor, author of thirteen poetry books, and numerous books of fiction and art criticism, John Yau, has been announced as winner of the 2018 Jackson Poetry Prize. Awarded annually to an American poet, John takes home the prize sum of $60,000 for exceptionality in his over five decades in the world of books and art.

John Yau emerged as winner out of twenty (20) poets nominated for the award. Speaking about John Yau’s win, the judges (Robin Coste Lewis, Arthur Sze, and Laura Kasischke, who are poets themselves) said that: “John Yau composes expansive variations, in series, that simultaneously widen, deepen, and complicate the scope of a poem. Visual art, film, and Surrealism are rivers in his work, yet it is Yau’s dazzling imagination and singular command of language that create unforgettable poems.”

Among John Yau’s books are: Corpse and Mirror (1983), Edificio Sayonara (1992), Forbidden Enteries (1996), Borrowed Love Poems (2002), Paradiso Diaspora (2006), A Thing Among Things: The Art of Jasper Johns (2008), Exhibits (2010), Further Adventures in Monochrome (2012), Catherin Murphy (2016), Thomas Nozkowski (2017), The Wild Children of William Blake (2017), Philip Taaffe (2018). A former Arts Editor for the Brooklyn Rail (2007-2011), John Yau is currently a Professor of Critical Studies at Mason Gross School of the Arts (Rutgers University). He has received numerous awards, fellowships and honors including: a New York Foundation for the Arts Award, the Jerome Shestack Award, and the Lavan Award from the Academy of American Poets.

John Yau’s devotion to the arts is oceanic: a son of a bookkeeper; at an early age he became friends with an abstract painter’s son; he then went to Bard College, an expensive liberal college. Asked what he would like to write on his tombstone, John said, “I wink at you from infinity.”

The Jackson Poetry judges added that, “John Yau has created a compelling body of work”.

The prize was established in 2006 and “is named for the John and Susan Jackson family” from a gift from the Liana Foundation.

Previous winners of the Jackson Poetry Prize include: Patricia Spears Jones, 2017; Will Alexander, 2016; 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; Elizabeth Alexander, 2007.

And among past judges are: Henri Cole, Kwame  Dawes, Elizabeth Alexander, Terrances Hayes, Vijay Seshadri, Tracy K. Smith, Mark Strand, Natasha Tretheway, Rita Dove, Ted Kooser, Lucille Clifton, Jane Hirshfield, Philip Levine, Brenda Hillman.

A line from one of John Yau’s dreamy poems: “The window overlooking the sea is part of the dream.”