Patricia Smiths Wins $100,000 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Prize

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2008 National Book Award Finalist and 2014 Hurston-Wright Legacy Award winner Patricia Smith can now add the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award to her extensive list of accolades. Claremont Graduate University announced the winner of the $100,000 prize on February 20th of this year.

Smith won the award for her collection Incendiary Art: Poems published in 2016 by Northwestern University Press. Notably, this not the first, but second award Incendiary Art: Poems has received this year. It was announced on January 14th that Smith’s work was selected for the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work in the Poetry category

In her most recent collection, Smith “confronts the tyranny against the black male body and the tenacious grief of [Black] mothers.” The collection revisits the murder of Emmitt Till as an entry point into her reflects, laments, and critique of the state of race relations in the United States.

Patricia Smith is the author of six other collections of poetry; a historical non-fiction text: Africans in America co-authored with scholar Charles Johnson (Harcourt Brace, 1998); and one children’s book: Janna and the Kings (Lee & Low, 2003), which won the 2001 New Voices Award for new children’s book authors.

Smith is also an educator and spoken word performer. She sits on the faculties at the Stonecoast MFA program in Creative Writing and the Low-Residency MFA Program in Creative Writing at Sierra Nevada College.

It’s a small known fact that Smith also co-founded one of the longest-running Spoken Word Poetry venues in the city: The Boston Poetry Slam. Initially based at Bookseller Cafe in 1991, the weekly event moved to the Cantab Lounge in Cambridge, MA (738 Mass. Ave) where it resides today.

For more information on Patricia Smith and the Kingsley Tufts award check out the full release here.

The Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award is a $100,000 prize presented to a mid-career, emerging poet who already possesses an established body of work. The award was established at Claremont Graduate University in 1992-93 by Kate Tufts, in honor of her husband poet Kingsley Tufts who died in 1991. 

Photo credit: Courtesy of Beowulf Sheehan