The Yale Younger Poets prize is the oldest annual literary award in the United States. Its winners include some of the most influential voices in American poetry, including Adrienne Rich, John Ashbery, Margaret Walker, Carolyn Forché, and Robert Hass.
In celebration of the prize’s centennial, this collection presents three selections from each Younger Poets volume. It serves as both a testament to the enduring power and significance of poetic expression and an exploration of the ways poetry has evolved over the past century. In addition to judiciously assembling this wide-ranging anthology, Carl Phillips provides an introduction to the history and impact of the Yale Younger Poets prize and its winners in the wider context of American poetry, including the evolving roles of race, gender, and sexual orientation.
Julie Agoos was born in Boston, Massachusetts and studied at Harvard and Johns Hopkins University. She is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently Echo System in 2015. The recipient of the Yale Younger Poets Prize for Above the Land, Towson State University Prize for Literature and a Robert Frost Residency Fellowship, Agoos has taught at Brooklyn College since 1994, where she directs the MFA Program in Poetry.
Nicholas Samaras was born in England at Foxton, Cambridgeshire, and later studied at Hellenic College, Columbia University, and the University of Denver. The recipient of the Yale Younger Poets Prize for Hands of the Saddlemaker and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, Samaras published a second book of poems, American Psalm, World Psalm in 2014
Judith E Johnson’s most recent of eight poetry collections is Cities of Mathematics and Desire, (Sheep Meadow Press, Poetry Society of America Di Castagnola Prize). Her awards include the Yale Series of Younger Poets Prize, a Playboy fiction prize, an NEA grant, and the Nimrod International Katherine Anne Porter short story prize. She has served as President of the Poetry Society of America, and President of the Board of Associated Writing Programs. Her just-completed novel, American Tarot, is currently seeking a publisher. She will be reading 2 poems tonight, the second accompanied by Connor Sherwin, of Drums of Thunder.
Ken Chen studied at the University of California-Berkeley and at Yale Law School. Winner of the Yale Younger Poets Prize for Juvenilia, Chen works as a lawyer in New York City, where he also directs the Asian American Writers’ Workshop. In 2011 he founded CultureStrike, a national organization designed to bring artists into the migrant justice movement.
Sandra Hochman was born in New York City and educated at Bennington College and Columbia University. In addition to many volumes of poetry, including Manhattan Pastures, for which she won the Yale Younger Poets Prize in 1962, and Earthworks: Poems 1960-1970, Hochman has written several novels and essays, as well as directed the feminist documentary Year of the Woman (1973).