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NU Press wins Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award for second year in a row

“Incendiary Art: Poems,” a book of poems by Patricia Smith published by TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern University Press, has won the prestigious 2018 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award.

NU Press’s “Forest Primeval” by Vievee Francis won the same honor in 2017, making it the first time a university press has won the award two consecutive years. Smith will accept the award at a ceremony on April 19 at Claremont Graduate University. The award comes with $100,000, the largest cash prize in the poetry world for a single collection of poems.

Unlike many literary awards, which honor a successful career retrospectively, the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award is given at mid-career, which both rewards a specific work and provides financial resources that allow poets the freedom to continuing to hone their craft.

Including Vievee Francis, other past winners of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award have included Ross Gay, Angie Estes, Marianne Boruch, Rodney Jones and Yusef Komunyakaa.

“NU Press has made distinctive contributions to scholarship and the humanities since its founding in 1893,” said NU Press director Jane Bunker. “We’re extremely proud of our partnership with Patricia Smith and other internationally acclaimed poets and writers.”

“Incendiary Art” is Smith’s eighth collection of poetry. The recipient of the 2018 NAACP Image Award and numerous other honors, “Incendiary Art” chronicles the violence committed against black male bodies in the past and present. Paying special attention to the 1955 lynching of Emmett Till, Smith gives poetic voice to the collective grief of mothers in the black community.

Smith is a 2014 Guggenheim fellow, a 2012 fellow at both MacDowell and Yaddo, a two-time Pushcart Prize winner, recipient of a Lannan fellowship and a four-time individual champion of the National Poetry Slam, the most successful poet in the competition’s history.

Her awards and honors include the 2014 Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize from the Library of Congress, the 2013 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets and a 2013 Phillis Wheatley Book Award. She is a Cave Canem faculty member, an associate professor of English at CUNY/College of Staten Island and a faculty member in the Sierra Nevada College M.F.A. program.

Northwestern University Press is dedicated to publishing works of enduring scholarly and cultural value, extending the University’s mission to a community of readers throughout the world. The Press publishes important works in philosophy, the performing arts, fiction, poetry, critical ethnic studies, Slavic studies, literary criticism, literature in translation and Chicago regional books. The Press’s award-winning imprint, TriQuarterly Books, is devoted primarily to contemporary American fiction and poetry.

Previous award winners published under this imprint include Nikky Finney, whose “Head Off & Split” won the National Book Award for Poetry in 2011, and Matthew Shenoda, whose “Tahrir Suite” won the Arab American National Museum's 2015 George Ellenbogen Poetry Award.