November 15, 2016 Library Seeks Nominations for Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Poetry Prize

Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: Rob Casper (202) 707-5394

The Library of Congress is accepting nominations from publishers for the Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry. The 2016 prize will be awarded in winter 2017.

The prize, which carries a $10,000 award, is given biennially. It will be presented to an American poet for the best book published during the previous two years, 2014 and 2015, or for lifetime achievement in poetry. Publishers may submit entries for the best book; the lifetime achievement award is at the sole discretion of the prize jury and the Librarian of Congress.

Applications must be postmarked by January 1, 2017. Guidelines for submission can be found at

The prize is made possible by the family of the late Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt of Austin, Texas, in her memory. She was one of three sisters of President Lyndon B. Johnson. In the 1930s, Rebekah Johnson was a graduate student in Washington and worked at the Library of Congress, where she met co-worker O.P. Bobbitt, whom she later married.

Their son, Philip C. Bobbitt, once described how his parents used old index cards at the Library to pass notes to one another to further their romance. "Sometime after my mother’s death, my father and I decided to endow a memorial in her honor and, owing to the history I have described, the Library of Congress was suggested as a possible recipient of this memorial."

The 2014 Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Poetry Prize was given to Patricia Smith for her book "Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah" (Coffee House Press). Additional past winners include Gerald Stern, who won in 2010 for "Early Collected Poems: 1965-1992" (W.W. Norton); Lucia Perillo, who won in 2010 for "Inseminating the Elephant" (Copper Canyon Press); Charles Wright for lifetime achievement and Bob Hicok for "This Clumsy Living" (University of Pittsburgh Press) in 2008; W.S. Merwin, who won in 2006 for "Present Company" (Copper Canyon Press); and B.H. Fairchild in 2004 for "Early Occult Memory Systems of the Lower Midwest" (W.W. Norton). The Bobbitt Prize was first given in 1990.

The Poetry and Literature Center at the Library of Congress fosters and enhances the public’s appreciation of literature. The center administers the endowed chair, U.S. Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry; coordinates an annual season of readings, performances, lectures and symposia; and sponsors prizes and fellowships for literary writers. For more information, visit

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PR 16-201
ISSN 0731-3527