Patricia Smith …

Patricia Smith wins the $100,000 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award

The Claremont Graduate University has announced Patricia Smith as winner of the 2018 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award for her collection, Incendiary Art. Published in February 2017 by TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern University Press, Incendiary Art has been considered as Patricia’s best book so far. The prize money is $100,000.

Also, Donika Kelly was announced as winner of the 2018 Kate Tufts Discovery Award for her debut poetry book, Bestiary (Graywolf Press, 2016). Donika will receive the award with $10,000 as prize money.

Smith and Kelly’s books were chosen out of four hundred and seventy (470) titles entered for the awards.

This year’s awards were judged by a panel of poets including: Don Share, editor of Poetry Magazine; Elena Karina Byrne, poetry moderator for the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books; Sandy Solomon, teacher at Vanderblit University; Khadijah Queen, poet and playwright; and, Terrance Hayes, poetry editor of New York Times Magazine.

Established in 1992 by Kate Tufts, The Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award is for poets at mid-career to the honor of her husband, Kingsley Tufts, who loved and published poetry, and who died in 1991. Speaking about the award, Kate said the prize is to “enable a poet to work on his or her craft for awhile without paying bills.” A year later, Kate established the Kate Tufts Discovery Award for a first book by a poet of promise.

In her response to the announcement Patricia said, “This is one of the best moments of my entire life.”

Past winners of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award include: Vievee Francis for her book, Forest Primeval; Ross Gay for his book, Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude; Angie Estes for her book, Enchantée; D.A. Powell for his book, Chronic; John Koethe for his book, Falling Water.

Past winners of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award include: Phillip B. Williams for his book, Thief in the Interior; Danez Smith for his book, [Insert] Boy; Yona Harvey for her book, Hemming the Water; Katherine Larson for her book, Radial Symmetry; Terrance Hayes for his book, Muscular Music.  

Donika Kelly

Smith and Kelly will be receiving their awards on April 19 during a special ceremony and reading at the Huntington Library in San Marino.

Speaking about this year’s award, Professor Lori Anne Ferrell, director of the Kingsley and Kate Tufts Awards at Claremont Graduate University said that, “Kate would have been so pleased to see another impressive group of finalists in both categories this year.” “And I think she would have been thrilled to see the awards going to Smith and Kelly, whose works engage with and challenge the world in such powerful, poignant, and unexpected ways.”

Author of eight (8) books, Patricia Smith has been praised as “a testament to the power of words to change lives.” She is currently a professor at the College of Staten Island and in the Low-Residency MFA Creative Writing program at Sierra Nevada College. She has received awards and fellowships including: John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, a Civitellia Ranieri Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and two Pushcart Prizes for Poetry.  

Donika Kelly is currently an assistant professor of English at St. Bonaventure University in New York, and has won the Cave Canem Poetry Prize. Speaking About her poetry, Donika said: “I’m interested in becoming the best version of myself, not teaching anyone else about morality. I want to explore, ‘what are the stakes here?’ The book is about me exploring how I can become a better person.”