2021's Most Prestigious Poetry Awards

Poetry has been an integral part of society for thousands of years, and some might say it has helped shape the world we live in today. Often dismissed as a hobby by many, the art form can be a powerful tool if used correctly. In 2021, there will be many poetry awards given out to poets who have shown outstanding talent and commitment to their craft. 

There is a lot of debate about which poetry awards are the most prestigious, and it is difficult to know where to begin when starting your research. This article will provide you with information on the most prestigious awards for poetry in 2021. It will give you a brief overview of each award, including its history and the eligibility requirements. 

While many people have heard of these awards, not everyone is familiar with all they offer to poets. If you are looking to submit your work to an award that recognises excellence, or if you are looking to nominate someone, or perhaps you are just curious, read on!

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Table of Contents

National Book Award

The National Book Awards are among the highest literary honours bestowed in the United States.  The National Book Foundation (NBF), a non-profit organisation with goals to “….encourage the appreciation of excellent writing in the United States…and to keep books alive in the hearts and minds of Americans.” the award since 1950. 

The Kingsley And Kate Tufts Poetry Awards

The Kingsley and Kate Tufts Poetry Awards are a pair of American prizes based at Claremont Graduate University. The awards are given to two winners: $100,000 for the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award and $10,000 for the Kate Tufts Discovery Award.

Pulitzer Prize For Poetry

The Pulitzer Prize for poetry is awarded to a poet whose distinguished and growing body of work to date represents a unique and accomplished poetic sensibility. First awarded in 1922, it’s one of the seven American Pulitzer Prizes awarded annually for Letters, Drama, and Music. 

Forward Prize For Poetry

The Forward Prize is a British literary prize awarded annually for the best poetry collection published in the United Kingdom or Ireland. It was established in 1992 and sponsored by “Forward Magazine” with a guaranteed £10,000.

The Griffin Poetry Prize

The Griffin Poetry Prize is a Canadian literary award for poetry, its richest prize with its $100,000 purse. It was founded in 2000 by businessman and philanthropist Scott Griffin to honour contemporary poetry in English worldwide. The awards are given to one Canadian and one international poet who writes in English.

James Laughlin Award

One of the most esteemed poetry awards, the James Laughlin Award, is given annually by The Academy of American Poets. The $5000 prize is the only award that is given to a poet for their second book.

The Robert Frost Medal

The Frost Medal is given annually by The Poetry Society of America. The Robert Frost Medal is given to individuals who have “rendered distinguished service to poetry.” The prize purse for this medal is $2500.

TS Eliot Prize

The Eliot Prize is a prestigious award for the best new poetry collection in English and published by the UK or Irish authors. It’s run by The T S Eliot Foundation who offer a grand prize of £25,000. Shortlisted finalists will also receive £1,500 for their poetry efforts as well!

Norma Farber First Book Award

The American Academy of Arts and Letters gives the Norma Farber First Book Award to recognise the outstanding quality and promise of the first book by an American poet. It comes with a $500 prize to encourage talented emerging poets.

Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize

The Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize is a poetry award given by the Poetry Foundation to a living U.S. poet whose lifetime accomplishments warrant extraordinary recognition. The $100,000 cash prize is one of the most distinguished literary awards in the United States, and It has been called the “American Nobel”.

William Carlos Williams Award

The Poetry Society of America gives out the William Carlos Williams Award to acknowledge books published by small presses, non-profit organisations or universities. It is named after American poet William Carlos Williams and comes with $1000 prize money.

Pushcart Prize

The Pushcart Prize is a small press award that recognises the best poetry, short fiction and essays published in American publications over one calendar year. The winners don’t receive any money, and they get to be part of an elite group that their peers have recognised as being among today’s best writers in America.

United States Poet Laureate

The Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress is appointed by the Librarian of Congress and serves as the country’s official poet.  The poet laureate is a figure who seeks to raise the national consciousness, and more specifically, poetry appreciation. This person’s service typically lasts one year, and they earn a salary of $35 000.

Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award

The Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award is an annual competition for English-language sonnets that draws 3000 entries. The award aims to bring greater public awareness for underrepresented but talented poets and offers a cash purse of $1000.

The National Book Critics Circle Award

The National Book Critics Circle annually awards the finest books published in six categories: Fiction, Nonfiction, Biography, Autobiography, Poetry and Criticism. Winners receive $10,000 and a bronze sculpture. 

Bobbitt Prize

The biennial Bobbitt Prize is awarded to recognise a book of poetry written by an American and published during the preceding two years. The winner receives $10,000!

Lannan Literary Award

The Lannan Foundation offers many different prizes to recognise literary achievement, including several specifically for poetry. Established in 1989, The Lannan Literary Award is given to recognise excellence in literature. It had given 173 writers and poets over $13 million in awards since its inception 20 years ago.

Eric Gregory Award

The Eric Gregory Award is a British literary award given to poets under 30 annually with prize money totalling £24,000. The award was founded in 1960 by Dr Eric Gregory to support and encourage young poets who had not yet found success with any other awards or recognition but were developing their craft nonetheless, reminding them they are never too early or late for excellence!

Walt Whitman Award

The Walt Whitman Award is a prestigious award given to American poets who have not published a book. The winning book-length manuscript is awarded a $5000 cash prize, in addition to an all-expenses-paid six-week residency at the Civitella Ranieri Center in the Umbrian region of Italy.

The Writer Magazine/Emily Dickinson Award

The Writer Magazine/Emily Dickinson Award is granted once a year to a member of the Poetry Society of America in celebration of Emily Dickinson’s legacy and poetry, for a poem inspired by Dickinson but not particularly in her style,e. A $250 incentive is awarded to the winner.

Brunel International African Poetry Prize

The Brunel International African Poetry Prize (sponsored by Brunel University, London) is a £3,000 yearly poetry prize dedicated to cultivating, celebrating, and promoting African poetry. Poets born in Africa, are citizens of an African country or have African parents are eligible for the prize.

American Academy of Arts and Letters Gold Medals

Each year, the American Academy of Arts and Letters bestows two Gold Medals for outstanding achievement. The two awards are taken in rotation from categories including Drama and Graphic Art; History and Architecture; including Landscape Architecture; Fiction and Sculpture; Biography and Music; Belles Lettres and Criticism and Painting and Poetry and Music.

Donald Justice Poetry Prize

The Donald Justice Poetry Prize is an annual poetry competition for unpublished 50–100 typed page manuscripts of formal poetry, open to all American poets regardless of whether they have previously published a book-length collection. The reward is $1500 plus publication.

Bollingen Prize

Carrying a purse of $1000, The Bollingen Prize for Poetry is a literary award given to an American poet for the best book of new verse published in the previous two years or for lifetime achievement. It is given out every two years by Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

Poetry Society of America Awards

The PSA’s Annual Awards are among the highest distinctions bestowed to poets. They provide recognition to both young and renowned poets at all phases of their careers, including a student poetry prize and book awards for publishers.

The Writer Magazine/Emily Dickinson Award: The Writer Magazine/Emily Dickinson Award is granted once a year to a member of the Poetry Society of America in celebration of Emily Dickinson’s legacy and poetry, for a poem inspired by Dickinson but not particularly in her style,e. A $250 incentive is awarded to the winner.

Cecil Hemley Memorial Award: The Cecil Hemley Memorial Award honours a living poet whose work has been deemed ‘notable’, and this award comes with $500 in cash.

Lyric Poetry Award: For a lyric poem on any subject. Winners receive a prize of $500.

Lucille Medwick Memorial Award: For a prose poem.-$500

Alice Fay Di Castagnola Award: For ten pages of poetry from a manuscript-in-progress.- $1000

George Bogin Memorial Award: For a selection of four or five poems that initially use language to reflect the ordinary and the extraordinary encounter and take a stand against oppression in any of its forms.-$500

Robert H. Winner Memorial Award: This annual award is given to a poet who has made an outstanding contribution to the genre. The winner will receive $2,500 and their work published by the Poetry Society of America! It is given annually to a poet over 40 who has published no more than one book.

The Popescu European Poetry Translation Prize

The Poetry Society gives the Popescu European Poetry Translation Award every two years for a renowned volume of poetry translated into English from a European language. The prize is worth £1000.

The Michael Marks Poetry Pamphlet Awards

The Michael Marks Poetry Pamphlet Awards are given out annually to pamphlets published in the United Kingdom. The awards are intended to encourage the pamphlet form and provide opportunities for poets and publishers to grow. The winning publisher will be awarded a $5,000 prize.

Arthur Rense Prize

Paige Rense founded the $20 000 Arthur Rense Prize in 1998 in memory of her husband, sportswriter and poet- Arthur Rense. The American Academy of Arts and Letters awards the prize every three years to an outstanding poet.

 

Alice James Award

In 1986, the press founded the Beatrice Hawley Award, known as the Alice James Award. It’s a nationwide publication prize accessible to poets at all stages of their careers. The winning poet will have their book published, promoted, and distributed around the country and earn $2,000 in prize money.

The Glascock Poetry Prize

The Kathryn Irene Glascock Poetry Contest is named after a bright young poet who graduated from Mount Holyoke in 1922 and died in 1923 from pneumonia. The competition was started by her parents in that year and became an intercollegiate event in 1924.

Faculty members select students, who are subsequently judged by a panel of three eminent poets. The Glascock Poetry Contest is the country’s oldest and longest-running poetry competition for undergraduate students in America.

Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize

The Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize is a British literary prize created in 1963 to honour Geoffrey Faber, the publisher’s founder and first Chairman. The prize money is £1500.

Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize

The University of Pittsburgh Press sponsors the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize, which was founded in 1981. The prize is presented for a first full-length book of poems named after Agnes Lynch Starrett, the Press’s first director.

The award includes a $5,000 cash prize and publication in the Pitt Poetry Series by the University of Pittsburgh Press.

The Lambda Literary Awards

The Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry is given annually by the Lambda Literary Foundation to a gay-themed poetry book written by a male author.

The Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry

The Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry is given to a poet from any Commonwealth nation who has produced a book of poetry. The award was formerly exclusively accessible to British nationals residing in the United Kingdom, but in 1985 it was expanded to include persons from other Commonwealth countries.

The Aiken Taylor Award for Modern American Poetry

The Aiken Taylor Award for Modern American Poetry is an annual prize given out by the Sewanee Review and the University of the South to a poet who has had a long and illustrious career.

It was founded thanks to a donation from Dr K.P.A. Taylor, a poet and Conrad Aiken’s younger brother. In addition to the distinction, there is a $10,000 cash prize.

Harold Morton Landon Translation Award

This $1,000 prize honours a poetry volume published in the previous calendar year and translated into English from any language. It’s been granted every year since 1976. A distinguished translator chooses the winning novel.

The SFPA Rhysling Awards

Each year, the Rhysling Awards are given out for the best science fiction, fantasy, or horror poetry. The Rhyslings are named after a figure in a science fiction narrative, unlike most literary prizes, which are named after the award’s writer.

Richard Wilbur Award

The Richard Wilbur Award is an American poetry award and publishing prize given by the University of Evansville in Indiana. This biennial competition (awarded in even-numbered years) amongst all American poets awards publication of the winning manuscript by the University of Evansville Press and a monetary prize of $1000.

Conclusion

If you are a poet looking to take your artistry to the next level, this list of prestigious poetry awards should help get you started. Whether it’s an international award or one hosted closer to home, the number of prestigious poetry awards has increased dramatically in recent years.  

We recommend taking some time to research each program and see if any stand out more than others before submitting your poems. And don’t forget about all those other factors that go into winning an award – including how well you promote yourself on social media and how early you submit your poems (to give yourself a better chance at being shortlisted). Thank You for visiting and Goodluck!

Tangent

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