Saturday, December 12, 2015

Black Women, Poetry, Awards & Fellowships, 1975-2015

Updated: December 14, 2015

For some time now, I've been thinking and writing about awards, prizes, and fellowships earned by African American poets. What follows is a list of black women recipients of poetry honors over the last 40 years.  The list contains 125 entries.

It's worth noting that 57% of the 125 awards and fellowships mentioned here were earned by 11 poets: Elizabeth Alexander (7), Gwendolyn Brooks (6), Lucille Clifton (7), Rita Dove (8), Thylias Moss (4), Harryette Mullen (4), Marilyn Nelson (6), Claudia Rankine (5), Patricia Smith (6), Tracy K. Smith (8), Natasha Trethewey (11).

[Related: Black men, poetry, awards & fellowships, 1975-2015

I'm certain the list is not exhaustive. There are all kinds of awards and fellowship that are not as visible. However, this current list provides a sense of what has transpired with awards and fellowships over the decades.

1975: Ai (Guggenheim Fellowship)
1976: Gwendolyn Brooks (Shelley Memorial Award)
1983: Rita Dove (Guggenheim Fellowship)
1984: Wanda Coleman (Guggenheim Fellowship)
1985-1986: Gwendolyn Brooks (Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress)
1987: Rita Dove (Pulitzer Prize for Poetry)
1987: Ai (American Book Award)
1989: Gwendolyn Brooks (Robert Frost Medal)
1990: Thylias Moss (National Poetry Series Winner)
1990: M. NourbeSe Philip (Guggenheim Fellowship)
1991: Thylias Moss (Whiting Writers' Award)
1992: Lucille Clifton (Shelley Memorial Award)
1992: Marilyn Nelson (Anisfield-Wolf Award)
1992: Allison Joseph (John C. Zacharis First Book Award)
1993: Maya Angelou (Presidential Inaugural Poet)
1993-1995: Rita Dove (United States Poet Laureate)
1994: Gwendolyn Brooks (Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters)
1995: Thylias Moss (Guggenheim Fellowship)
1995: Beverly V. Head (Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award)
1995: Gwendolyn Brooks (National Medal of Arts)

1996: Thylias Moss (MacArthur Fellowship)
1996: Lucille Clifton (Lannan Literary Award for Poetry)
1996: Rita Dove (National Humanities Medal)
1997: Tracy K. Smith (Stegner Fellowship)
1998: Brenda Marie Osbey (American Book Award)
1999: Natasha Trethewey (Cave Canem poetry prize)
1999: Ai (National Book Award for Poetry)
1999: Gwendolyn Brooks (Academy of American Poets' Fellowship)
1999: Ruth Ellen Kocher (Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award)
1999: Wanda Coleman (Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize)
1999: Marilyn Nelson (Poets' Prize)
2000: Lucille Clifton (National Book Award for Poetry)
2000: Maya Angelou (National Medal of Arts)
2000: Natasha Trethewey (The Radcliffe Institute Fellowship)
2001: Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon (Cave Canem poetry prize)
2001: Marilyn Nelson (Guggenheim Fellowship)
2001: Sonia Sanchez (Robert Frost Medal)
2001: Natasha Trethewey (Lillian Smith Book Award)
2001: Lucille Clifton (Anisfield-Wolf Lifetime Achievement Award)
2001: Marilyn Nelson (Boston Globe–Horn Book Award)

2001: Constance Merritt (The Radcliffe Institute Fellowship)
2001: Natasha Trethewey (Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award)
2001: Constance Merritt (The Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Awards)
2001-2006: Marilyn Nelson (Poet Laureate of Connecticut)
2002: Angela Jackson (Shelley Memorial Award)
2002: Tracy K. Smith (Cave Canem poetry prize)
2002: Elizabeth Alexander (Guggenheim Fellowship)
2002: Peggy Ann Tartt (Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award)
2003: Natasha Trethewey (Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award)
2003: Natasha Trethewey (Guggenheim Fellowship)
2003: Monifa A. Love (Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award)
2004: Amber Flora Thomas (Cave Canem poetry prize)
2004: Toi Derricotte (Guggenheim Fellowship)
2004: Mendi Lewis Obadike (Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award)
2004: Tracy K. Smith (The Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Awards)
2004-2006: Rita Dove (Poet Laureate of Virginia)
2005: Tracy K. Smith (Whiting Writers' Award)
2005: Mona Lisa Savoy (T. S. Eliot Prize)
2005: Patricia Smith (National Poetry Series Winner)
2005: Constance Quarterman Bridges (Cave Canem poetry prize)

2005: Harryette Mullen (Guggenheim Fellowship)
2005: Roxane Beth Johnson (Philip Levine Prize in Poetry)
2005: Claudia Rankine (Academy of American Poets' Fellowship)
2005: Elizabeth Alexander (Alphonse Fletcher Sr. Fellowship)
2006: Dawn Lundy Martin (Cave Canem poetry prize)
2006: Rita Dove (Common Wealth Award of Distinguished Service)
2006: Carolyn Beard Whitlow (Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award)
2006: Tracy K. Smith (James Laughlin Award)
2007: Lucille Clifton (Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize)
2007: Remica L. Bingham (Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award)
2007: Harryette Mullen (Beyond Margins Award)
2007: Natasha Trethewey (Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award)
2007: Patricia Smith (Hurston-Wright Legacy Award)
2007: Natasha Trethewey (Pulitzer Prize for Poetry)
2007: Natasha Trethewey (Lillian Smith Book Award)
2007: Elizabeth Alexander (Jackson Poetry Prize)
2008: Nikki Giovanni (American Book Award)
2008: Nagueyalti Warren (Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award)
2009: Elizabeth Alexander (Presidential Inaugural Poet)
2009: Harryette Mullen (Academy of American Poets' Fellowship)

2009: Dawn Lundy Martin (Nightboat Books Poetry Prize)
2009: Vievee Francis (The Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Awards)
2009: Crystal Williams (Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award)
2010: Camille Dungy (Crab Orchard Open Poetry Series)
2010: Lucille Clifton (Robert Frost Medal)
2010: Elizabeth Alexander (Anisfield-Wolf Lifetime Achievement Award)
2010: Patricia Smith (Rattle Poetry Prize)
2010: Camille Dungy (Crab Orchard Series in Poetry Open Competition Award)
2010: Harryette Mullen (Jackson Poetry Prize)
2010: Vievee Francis (Cave Canem Northwestern University Press Poetry Prize)
2011: Camille Dungy (American Book Award)
2011: Carmen Gillespie (Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award)
2011: Elizabeth Alexander (Hurston-Wright Legacy Award)
2011: Rita Dove (National Medal of Arts)
2011: Maya Angelou (Presidential Medal of Freedom)
2011: Nicole Terez Dutton (Cave Canem poetry prize)
2011: Nikky Finney (National Book Award for Poetry)
2012: Marilyn Nelson (Robert Frost Medal)
2012: Evie Shockley (Hurston-Wright Legacy Award)
2012: Wanda Coleman (Shelley Memorial Award)

2012: Natasha Trethewey (Poet Laureate of Mississippi)
2012: Tracy K. Smith (Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative)
2012: Tracy K. Smith (Pulitzer Prize for Poetry)
2012: Sheila Carter-Jones (Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award)
2012-2014: Natasha Trethewey (United States Poet Laureate)
2013: TJ Jarrett (Crab Orchard Series in Poetry Open Competition Award)
2013: Lucille Clifton (Hurston-Wright Legacy Award)
2013: Patricia Smith (Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize)
2013: Harmony Holiday (Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowships)
2013: Esperanza Cintrón (Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award)
2014: Yona Harvey (Kate Tufts Discovery Award)
2014: Claudia Rankine (Lannan Literary Award for Poetry)
2014: Claudia Rankine (Jackson Poetry Prize)
2014: Patricia Smith (Guggenheim Fellowship)
2014: Claudia Rankine (Los Angeles Times Book Prize)
2014: Tracy K. Smith (Academy of American Poets' Fellowship)
2014: Rita Dove (Carole Weinstein Prize in Poetry)
2014: Renee Gladman (The Radcliffe Institute Fellowship)
2014: Patricia Smith (Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry)
2015: Claudia Rankine (National Book Critics Circle Award)

2015: Aracelis Girmay (Whiting Writers' Award)
2015: Robin Coste Lewis (National Book Award for Poetry)
2015: Jamila Woods (Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowships)
2015: R. Flowers Rivera (Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award)
2015: Elizabeth Alexander (Inaugural Frederick Iseman Professor of Poetry)

A Notebook on prizes, awards & fellowships
Blog entries about black women poets


Tara Betts said...

I'm interested in seeing a comparable list for male counterparts.

Aricka Foreman said...

This is really useful. I'd be interested in the male counterpart list, as well.

Also, the first book image is Robin Coste Lewis' Voyage of the Sable Venus.

Anonymous said...

Hi ! Interesting idea to « select » poets with the criteria of awards & prizes, it may seem a little « objective ». Well, I have some names missing :
Audre Lorde (many awards, see at the end of this page- )
June Jordan (Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Poetry 2005 for Directed by Desire : The Collected Poems)
Kate Rushin (Recipient of the Rose Low Rome Memorial Poetry Prize and the Grolier Poetry Prize, see )
Becky Birtha (Pushcart Prize 1989 for the poem « Jonnieruth »)
& the great and incredible Wilmette Brown who won in 1975 the Broadside Press Annual Poetry Award for her poem « Kwacha »

and many women poets (Alice Walker, Jayne Cortez...) in this list of the Langston Hughes Medal winners :

keep on going...