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The biennial, privately funded $10,000 prize recognizes the most distinguished book of poetry written by an American and published during the preceding two years. The prize is donated by the family of the late Mrs. Bobbitt of Austin, Tex., in her memory, and established at the Library of Congress.

The Library of Congress is accepting nominations from publishers for the $10,000 Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry. Applications must be postmarked by January 1, 2017.

Patricia SmithPatricia Smith
Bobbitt Prize Winner for 2014
(Photo credit: Beowulf Sheehan)

2014 Bobbitt Prize Winner

Patricia Smith is the author of six poetry collections, including Blood Dazzler (Coffee House Press, 2008), a finalist for the National Book Award, and Teahouse of the Almighty (Coffee House Press, 2006), a National Poetry Series selection. She also edited the crime fiction anthology Staten Island Noir (Akashic Books, 2012) and co-wrote a children’s book with author Aaron Boyd, Janna and the Kings (Lee & Low Books, 2003). Smith’s other honors include the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award in Poetry, the Carl Sandburg Literary Award, the Paterson Poetry Prize, multiple Pushcart Prizes, and the Rattle Poetry Prize. Smith was inducted into the International Literary Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent, and is the recipient of fellowships from both the MacDowell Colony and Yaddo. A four-time National Poetry Slam individual champion, she is the most successful slammer in the competition’s history. Patricia Smith's public reading took place on April 6 at the Library of Congress.

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Full List of Bobbitt Prize Winners

  • 2014: Patricia Smith for Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah
  • 2012: Gerald Stern for Early Collected Poems: 1965-1992
  • 2010: Lucia Perillo for Inseminating the Elephant
  • 2008: Charles Wright for Lifetime Achievement and Bob Hicok for This Clumsy Living
  • 2006: W.S. Merwin for Present Company
  • 2004: B.H. Fairchild for Early Occult Memory Systems of the Lower Midwest
  • 2002: Alice Fulton for Felt
  • 2000: David Ferry for Of No Country I Know: New and Selected Poems and Translations
  • 1998: Frank Bidart for Desire
  • 1996: Kenneth Koch for One Train
  • 1994: A.R. Ammons for Garbage
  • 1992: Louise Glück for Ararat and Mark Strand for The Continuous Life
  • 1990: James Merrill for The Inner Room