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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.

Nathaniel MackeyNathaniel Mackey
2016 Bobbitt Prize Winner

2016 Bobbitt Prize Winners

Nathaniel Mackey, Lifetime Achievement

Nathaniel Mackey is the author of six books of poetry, the most recent of which is Blue Fasa (New Directions, 2015); an ongoing prose work, From a Broken Bottle Traces of Perfume Still Emanate, whose fifth and most recent volume is Late Arcade (New Directions, 2017); and two books of criticism, the most recent of which is Paracritical Hinge: Essays, Talks, Notes, Interviews (University of Wisconsin Press, 2005). He is the editor of the literary magazine Hambone, coeditor, with Art Lange, of the anthology Moment's Notice: Jazz in Poetry and Prose (Coffee House Press, 1993), and coeditor, with Michael Bough, Kent Johnson and others, of the anthology Resist Much / Obey Little: Inaugural Poems to the Resistance (Dispatches Editions/Spuyten Duyvil, 2017). His awards and honors include the National Book Award for poetry, the Stephen Henderson Award from the African American Literature and Culture Society, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize from the Poetry Foundation, and the Bollingen Prize for American Poetry. He is the Reynolds Price Professor of English at Duke University.

Claudia Rankine Claudia Rankine
2016 Bobbitt Prize Winner

Claudia Rankine, Book Prize for Citizen: An American Lyric

Claudia Rankine is the author of five collections of poetry, including Citizen: An American Lyric (Graywolf Press, 2014) and Don’t Let Me Be Lonely (Graywolf Press, 2004); two plays, including Provenance of Beauty: A South Bronx Travelogue; numerous video collaborations, and is the editor of several anthologies including The Racial Imaginary: Writers on Race in the Life of the Mind (Fence Books, 2015). For Citizen, Rankine won the Forward Prize for Poetry, the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry (Citizen was also nominated in the criticism category, making it the first book in the award’s history to be a double nominee), the Los Angeles Times Book Award, the PEN Open Book Award, and the NAACP Image Award. A finalist for the National Book Award, Citizen also holds the distinction of being the only poetry book to be a New York Times bestseller in the nonfiction category. Among her numerous awards and honors, Rankine is the recipient of the Poets & Writers’ Jackson Poetry Prize and fellowships from the Lannan Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, United States Artists, and the National Endowment of the Arts. She is a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and teaches at Yale University as the Frederick Iseman Professor of Poetry.

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Full List of Bobbitt Prize Winners

  • 2016: Nathaniel Mackey for Lifetime Achievement and Claudia Rankine for Citizen: An American Lyric
  • 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