Dawn Lundy Martin, whose poetry collection “Good Stock Strange Blood” examines the weight of history and the traumas of private life, has won the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award based at Claremont Graduate University, the school announced Wednesday.
The award given annually to a mid-career poet is one of the most prestigious and lucrative prizes in poetry, with its $100,000 prize the largest in the world awarded for a single volume of work.
Diana Khoi Nguyen, whose debut collection “Ghost Of” was nominated for a National Book Award for Poetry in 2018, was chosen as the winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award, a $10,000 prize given to a young or emerging poet, the school also announced.
“I am so honored and thankful,” Martin said when contacted with the news recently by Len Jessup, president of Claremont Graduate University, Timothy Donnelly, chair of the judging committee, and Don Share, interim awards director and Poetry magazine editor.
Dawn Lundy Martin was announced as the winner of the Kingsley Tufts Award on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019. The award given annually at Claremont Graduate University comes with a $100,000 prize and honored Martin for her most-recent volume “Good Stock Strange Blood.” (Photo courtesy of the artist)
Diana Khoi Nguyen and her debut poetry collection “Ghost Of” were honored Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019, with the Kate Tufts Discovery Award, a poetry prize that comes with $10,000, given by Claremont Graduate University. (Photo courtesy of the author)
SoundThe gallery will resume inseconds“Good Stock Strange Blood” is the most-recent volume by poet Dawn Lundy Martin, and both were honored by the $100,000 Kingsley Tufts Award based at Claremont Graduate University on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019. (Photo courtesy of the author)
“Ghost Of” is the debut collection of poetry by Diana Khoi Nguyen, both of which were honored Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019, with the Kate Tufts Discovery Award, a poetry prize that comes with $10,000, given by Claremont Graduate University. (Photo courtesy of the author)
In a written statement announcing the award, Martin was praised for her “uncompromising poetics of resistance and exactitude,” and for the “fascinating, mysterious, formidable, and sublime explorations of the meaning of identity, the body, and the burdens of history along with one’s own private traumas.”
Nguyen’s collection, which revolves around the death of her younger brother and the impact his suicide continues to have on her family, was praised for the “vibrant, sharp, and gorgeous” poems the book includes.
Martin is an English professor in the University of Pittsburgh writing program and director and co-founder of the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics. She’s published four books of poetry including “Life in a Box is a Pretty Life,” for which she won a Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Poetry.
Nguyen, who was born and raised in Los Angeles, is a doctoral student in creative writing at the University of Denver. She received her bachelor’s degree at the University of California, Los Angeles, and later a master of fine arts at Columbia University.
Both Martin and Nguyen will receive their awards in a closed ceremony at the university on April 10, and then appear in a public reading at the Huntington Library in San Marino on April 11.
The Kingsley Tufts Award was established by his wife Kate Tufts in 1992, a year after the death of the shipping executive who in later life became a well-respected poet with work published in magazines such as the New Yorker, Esquire and Harper’s. A year later, Kate Tufts, who died in 1997, established the prize the bears her name.
Past winners of the Kingsley Tufts Award include such poets as Henri Cole, Thomas Lux, Linda Gregerson, and Patricia Smith, who won the prize in 2018.
“All of the finalists’ books have a certain amount of pain in them,” said Donnelly, the judging chair, who also won the 2012 Kingsley Tufts Award, in the school’s statement. “None of our finalists took the easy path forward.
“That’s what art responds to: It addresses that pain – not to fix it, but to bring it to the world’s attention.”
In addition to Martin, the finalists for the Kingsley Tufts Award included CAConrad for “While Standing in Line for Death,” Terrance Hayes for “American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin,” Brenda Hillman for “Extra Hidden Life, among the Days,” and Craig Santos Perez for “from unincorporated territory [lukao].”
Finalists for the Kate Tufts Discovery Award other than Nguyen included Tyree Daye for “River Hymns,” Justin Phillip Reed for “Indecency,” Vanessa Angélica Villarreal for “Beast Meridian,” and Javier Zamora for “Unaccompanied.”
For more about the Kingsley and Kate Tufts poetry awards go to arts.cgu.edu/tufts-poetry-awards.