James Laughlin

James Laughlin (1914-1997) in 1963. Photo by Alex Joins. Licensed under Creative Commons, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

The James Laughlin Award, formerly the Lamont Poetry Prize, is given annually for a poet's second published book; it is the only major poetry award that honors a second book. The award is given by the Academy of American Poets, and is noted as one of the major prizes awarded to younger poets in the United States.[1] In 1959, Harvey Shapiro referred to the award as "roughly, a Pulitzer for bardlings."[2]


The award was first established in 1954 by a bequest from the wife of Thomas W. Lamont, who specified that it be used "for the discovery and encouragement of new poetic genius."[3] In 1959, Harvey Shapiro referred to the award as "roughly, a Pulitzer for bardlings."[4] Initially, the Lamont Poetry Selection was awarded to a poet's first published book; copies of the book were purchased from its publisher for distribution to the Academy's members. In 1975, the Academy changed to selecting a poet's second published volume; in an editorial, Peter Davison welcomed the change, suggesting that publishing a second volume was becoming more difficult than publishing the first.[5]

In 1995, it was endowed by a gift from the Drue Heinz Trust, and it was renamed to honor James Laughlin, who founded the publishing house New Directions in 1936.[6] At present, winners receive a cash prize of $5,000 and the Academy purchases about 3000 volumes of the winning book for distribution to its membership;[6][7] the purchase and distribution essentially guarantee that the book becomes "a bestseller in the tiny poetry market."[8]

Edward Field has described the importance of receiving the Award to his career as follows:[9]

... perhaps it is just as well that I didn't succeed in getting a publisher earlier, since, with new poems being added all the time, the manuscript kept getting stronger. But years of rejection took their toll, and when I won the Lamont Award in 1962, I kept repeating "I will not be consoled." But I was. My life changed considerably. For one thing, I could make a living - I gave poetry readings around the country, wrote narrations for a couple of documentary films, translated a book of Eskimo poems, and, yes, even taught poetry workshops for a while.
—Edward Field

Several of the Award's recipients have subsequently won the highest honors given to poets. Donald Hall was named Poet Laureate of the United States in 2004. Donald Justice, Lisel Mueller, and Philip Schultz have each won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

Laughlin Award Winners (1996-present)Edit

This partial listing is taken from the website of the Academy of American Poets.[6]

Year Poet Book Judges
2015 Kathryn Nuernberger The End of Pink Francisco X. Alarcón, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, D. Nurske
2014 Brian Blanchfield A Several World Lee Ann Brown, Tina Chang, C. S. Giscombe
2013 Jillian Weise The Book of Goodbyes Jeffrey McDaniel, Brenda Shaughnessy, Susan Wheeler
2012 Catherine Barnett The Game of Boxes April Bernard, Cyrus Cassells, Dana Levin (poet)
2011 Anna Moschovakis You and Three Others Are Approaching a Lake Juliana Spahr, Brian Teare, Mónica de la Torre
2010 Michael Dickman Flies Laure-Anne Bosselaar, Major Jackson, Michael Ryan
2009 Jennifer K. Sweeney[10] How to Live on Bread and Music Robin Becker, Bob Hicok, Afaa M. Weaver
2008 Rusty Morrison[11] the true keeps calm biding its story[12] Rae Armantrout, Claudia Rankine, Bruce Smith
2007 Brenda Shaughnessy Human Dark with Sugar Peter Gizzi, Matthea Harvey, Caroline Knox
2006 Tracy K. Smith Duende Elizabeth Alexander, Kimiko Hahn, Terrance Hayes
2005 Barbara Jane Reyes Poeta en San Francisco James Longenbach, Susan Stewart, Elizabeth Alexander
2004 Jeff Clark Music and Suicide Elizabeth Alexander, Mary Jo Bang, Susan Stewart
2003 Vijay Seshadri The Long Meadow Mary Jo Bang, Thom Gunn, Campbell McGrath
2002 Karen Volkman Spar Mary Jo Bang, Daniel Hall, Campbell McGrath
2001 Peter Johnson Miracles & Mortifications Daniel Hall, Campbell McGrath, Marilyn Nelson
2000 Liz Waldner A Point Is That Which Has No Part Agha Shahid Ali, Lynn Emanuel, Marilyn Nelson
1999 Tory Dent HIV, Mon Amour Lynn Emanuel, Yusef Komunyakaa, Marilyn Nelson
1998 Sandra Alcosser Except by Nature Lynn Emanuel, Yusef Komunyakaa, David St. John
1997 Tony Hoagland Donkey Gospel Yusef Komunyakaa, Heather McHugh, William Mathews
1996 David Rivard Wise Poison Heather McHugh, William Mathews, David St. John

Lamont Poetry Selections (1976-1995)Edit

Year Poet Book Judges
1995 Ralph Angel Neither World Richard Kenney, Heather McHugh, David St. John
1994 Brigit Pegeen Kelly Song Jorie Graham, Richard Kenney, David St. John
1993 Rosanna Warren Stained Glass Amy Clampitt, Jorie Graham, Richard Kenney
1992 Kathryn Stripling Byer Wildwood Flower Lucille Clifton, Jorie Graham, Robert Morgan
1991 Susan Wood Campo Santo Marvin Bell, Lucille Clifton, Robert Morgan
1990 Li-Young Lee The City in Which I Love You Marvin Bell, Sandra McPherson, Robert Morgan
1989 Minnie Bruce Pratt Crime Against Nature Marvin Bell, Alfred Corn, Sandra McPherson
1988 Mary Jo Salter Unfinished Painting Alfred Corn, Sandra McPherson, Mary Oliver
1987 Garrett Hongo The River of Heaven Philip Booth, Alfred Corn, Mary Oliver
1986 Jane Shore The Minute Hand Philip Booth, Louise Glück, Mary Oliver
1985 Cornelius Eady Victims of the Latest Dance Craze Philip Booth, Louise Glück, Charles Simic
1984 Philip Schultz Deep Within the Ravine Louise Glück, Charles Simic, David Wagoner
1983 Sharon Olds[13] The Dead and the Living June Jordan, Charles Simic, David Wagoner
1982 Margaret Gibson Long Walks in the Afternoon June Jordan, Richard Shelton, David Wagoner
1981 Carolyn Forché The Country Between Us William Harmon, June Jordan, Richard Shelton
1980 Michael Van Walleghen More Trouble with the Obvious William Harmon, Maxine Kumin, Richard Shelton
1979 Frederick Seidel Sunrise William Harmon, Maxine Kumin
1978 Ai Killing Floor Maxine Kumin, Philip Levine, Charles Wright
1977 Gerald Stern Lucky Life Alan Dugan, Philip Levine, Charles Wright
1976 Larry Levis The Afterlife Alan Dugan, Michael Harper, Philip Levine

Lamont Poetry Selections (1954-1975)Edit

For the first 20 years, a poet's first published volume was the annual Lamont Poetry Selection.

1975 Lisel Mueller
1974 John Balaban
1973 Marilyn Hacker
1972 Peter Everwine
1971 Stephen Dobyns
1970 William Harmon
1969 Marvin Bell
1968 Jane Cooper
1967 James Scully
1966 Kenneth O. Hanson
1965 Henri Coulette
1964 Adrien Stoutenburg
1963 No award
1962 Edward Field
1961 X.J. Kennedy
1960 Robert Mezey
1959 Donald Justice
1958 Ned O'Gorman
1957 Daniel Berrigan
1956 Philip Booth
1955 Donald Hall
1954 Constance Carrier

See alsoEdit


  1. Beach, Christopher (1999). Poetic Culture. Northwestern University Press. p. 40. ISBN 9780810116788.,M1. "The vast majority of those winning the major awards for younger poets over the last two decades (Guggenheims, Lamont prizes, the National Poetry Series, for example) have held graduate degrees in creative writing." 
  2. Shapiro, Harvey (August 9, 1959). "The Timbre of Three New Voices". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-05-15. 
  3. Henderson, Jeanne J. (1973). Literary and Library Prizes. Bowker. ISBN 978-0-8352-0645-7. 
  4. Shapiro, Harvey (August 9, 1959). "The Timbre of Three New Voices". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-05-15. 
  5. Davison, Peter (April 20, 1975). "The Nurture of Poets: The Guest Word". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-05-15. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 "James Laughlin Award". Academy of American Poets. Retrieved 2009-03-15. 
  7. "Literary Awards". Council of Literary Magazines and Presses. Retrieved 2009-04-05. 
  8. Miller, Judith (December 2, 1996). "As Arts Prizes Multiply, So Do Doubts on Value". The New York Times. 
  9. Field, Edward (1998). A Frieze for a Temple of Love. David R. Godine. p. 184. ISBN 978-1-57423-067-3. 
  10. Academy of American Poets > Jennifer K. Sweeney Receives the James Laughlin Award
  11. Five Berkeley Authors Win Northern California Book Awards, Berkeley Daily Planet, April 30, 2009
  12. the true keeps calm biding its story Ahsahta Press, 2007
  13. Sharon Olds Receives Lamont Poetry Award New York Times, September 18, 1983

hu:James Laughlin-díj

Ad blocker interference detected!

Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.