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Jorie Graham Wins Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry

Friday, 2 Nov 2018

Photo of Jorie Graham We are delighted to share the news that Jorie Graham has been named as the recipient of the 2018 Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry for her most recent collection, Fast, which we're extremely proud to publish. The collection was a 2017 Poetry Book Society Recommendation. The 2018 prize is awarded for the most distinguished book of poetry written by an American and published in the preceding two years. Congratulations, Jorie!

Graham, who is the Boylston Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory at Harvard University, will receive the award on Thursday, Dec. 6, in the Library of Congress's James Madison Memorial Building, Washington, D.C.

The panel of judges for this year’s prize included Mojave American poet and Lannan Literary Fellow Natalie Diaz, selected by U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith; James Laughlin Award winner and Guggenheim Fellow Catherine Barnett, selected by Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden; and Betty Sue Flowers, former director of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library, selected by the Bobbitt family.

The biennial Bobbitt Prize, which carries a $10,000 award, recognizes a book of poetry written by an American and published during the preceding two years, or the lifetime achievement of an American poet. The prize is donated by the family of Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt of Austin, Texas, in her memory, and awarded at the Library of Congress. Bobbitt was President Lyndon B. Johnson’s sister. While a graduate student in Washington, D.C., during the 1930s, Rebekah Johnson met college student O.P. Bobbitt when they both worked in the cataloging department of the Library of Congress. They married and returned to Texas.


Read more about the prize here.



Cover image of Jorie Graham's collection, Fast In her first new collection in five years, leading American poet Jorie Graham returns with her most exhilarating, personal, and formally inventive work to date. In Fast Graham’s long, pliant line takes sense as far as it can go, exploring the limits of the human and the dark seductions of the post-human. Conjuring an array of voices and perspectives – from bots to the holy shroud, the ocean floor and a medium transmitting from beyond the grave — these poems give form to the increasingly rapid transformation of our planet and ourselves. As it navigates cyber life; 3d-printed ‘life’; life after death; and biologically, chemically, and electronically modified life, Fast lights up the border of our new condition as individuals and as a species on the brink. 

 Jorie Graham was born in New York City in 1950, the daughter of a journalist and a sculptor. She was raised in Rome, Italy and educated in French schools. She studied philosophy at the Sorbonne in Paris before attending New York University as an undergraduate, where she studied filmmaking. She received an MFA in poetry from the University of Iowa. Graham is the author of numerous collections of poetry, most recently FAST (2017) which was shortlisted for the Forward Prize. Her collection PLACE (2012) won the Forward Prize for Best Collection. Her other Carcanet collections include Sea Change (Ecco, 2008), Never (2002), Swarm (2000), and The Dream of the Unified Field: Selected Poems 1974-1994, which won the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. About her work, James Longenbach wrote in the New York Times: "For 30 years Jorie Graham has engaged the whole human contraption — intellectual, global, domestic, apocalyptic — rather than the narrow emotional slice of it most often reserved for poems. She thinks of the poet not as a recorder but as a constructor of experience. Like Rilke or Yeats, she imagines the hermetic poet as a public figure, someone who addresses the most urgent philosophical and political issues of the time simply by writing poems." Graham has also edited two anthologies, Earth Took of Earth: 100 Great Poems of the English Language (1996) and The Best American Poetry 1990. Her many honors include a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship and the Morton Dauwen Zabel Award from The American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. She has taught at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop and is currently the Boylston Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory at Harvard University. She served as a Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets from 1997 to 2003.






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