Milt Kessler Poetry Book Award Past Winners

Established in 2002

2018 Milt Kessler Poetry Book Award Winner Raena Shirali for Gilt from Yes Yes Books

Judge: Maria Mazziotti Gillan

Finalists (in alphabetical order):

Bao Phi for Thousand Star Hotel (Coffee House Press)
Lynne Sharon Schwartz for No Way Out But Through (University of Pittsburgh Press)
Nicole Sealey for Ordinary Beast (Ecco)
Danez Smith for Don't Call Us Dead (Graywolf Press)
Maggie Smith for Good Bones (Tupelo Press)
William Trowbridge for Vanishing Point (Red Hen Press)
Afaa Michael Weaver for Spirit Boxing (University of Pittsburgh Press

2017 Milt Kessler Poetry Book Award Winner
Patricia Colleen Murphy for Hemming Flames
(Utah State University Press)

Judge: Dante DiStefano

Finalists (in alphabetical order):

Suzanne Buffam for A Pillow Book (Canarium Books)
Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello for Hour of the Ox (University of Pittsburgh Press)
Jennifer Givhan for Landscape with Headless Mama (Pleiades Press)
Ruth Ellen Kocher for Third Voice (Tupelo Press)
W.S. Merwin for Garden Time (Copper Canyon Press)
Brynn Saito for Power Made Us Swoon (Red Hen Press)

 2016 Yusef Komunyakaa for The Emperor of Water Clocks  (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux)

Judge: Maria Mazziotti Gillan

Finalists (in alphabetical order):

Lynn Emanuel for The Nerve of It: Poems New & Selected  (University of Pittsburgh Press)
Nick Flynn for My Feelings (Graywolf Press)
Tony Gloeggler for Until the Last Light Leaves (NYQ Books)
Angela Jackson for It Seems Like a Mighty Long Time (Northwestern University Press)
Parneshia Jones for Vessel (Milkweed Editions)
Devon Moore for Apology of a Girl Who Is Told She Is Going to Hell (Mayapple Press)
Alberto Rios for A Small Story About the Sky (Copper Canyon Press)

2015 Tarfia Faizullah for SEAM (Southern Illinois University Press)

Judge: Jose Antonio Rodriguez

Finalists (in alphabetical order):

Ellen Bass for Like a Beggar(Copper Canyon Press)
Saeed Jones for Prelude to Bruise(Coffee House Press)
Danusha Laméris for The Moons of August(Autumn House Press)
Al Ortolani for Waving Mustard in Surrender (NYQ Books)
Willie Perdomo for The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon (Penguin)
Matthew Zapruder for All That Remains (WordTech Editions)

2014 Jim Daniels for Birth Marks (BOA Editions)

Judge: Joe E. Weil

Finalists (in alphabetical order):
Jan Beatty for The Switching Yard (University of Pittsburgh Press)
Kwame Dawes for Duppy Conqueror: New and Selected Poems (Copper Canyon Press)
Denise Duhamel for Blow Out (University of Pittsburgh Press)
Brynn Saito for The Palace of Contemplating Departure (Red Hen Press)
Afaa Michael Weaver for The Government of Nature (University of Pittsburgh Press)

2013  Marilyn Nelson for Faster than Light: New & Selected Poems 1996-2011  (Louisiana State University Press)

Judge: Charlie Rossiter

Finalists (in alphabetical order):
Paola Corso for The Laundress Catches Her Breath (Cavankerry Press)
Natalie Diaz for When My Brother Was an Aztec (Copper Canyon Press)
Colleen J. McElroy for Here I Throw Down My Heart (University of Pittsburgh press)
Heather McNaugher for System of Hideouts  (Main Street Rag Publishing Company)
Melinda Palacio for How Fire is a Story, Waiting (Tia Chucha Press)
Peter Serchuk for All That Remains (WordTech Editions)

2012  Martin Espada for The Trouble Ball (W.W.Norton)

Judge: Ken Ronkowitz

Finalists (in alphabetical order):
Marvin Bell for Vertigo (Copper Canyon Press)
Wanda Coleman for The Worlds Fall Away (University of Pittsburgh Press)
Toi Derricotte for The Undertaker's Daughter (University of Pittsburgh press)
Janice Gould for Doubters and Dreamers (The University of Arizona Press)
Joan Logghe for The Singing Bowl (University of New Mexico Press)
Kevin Pilkington for The Unemployed Man Who Became A Tree (Black Lawrence Press)

2011  C.K. Williams for Wait (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

Judge: Susan Balik

Finalists (in alphabetical order):
Elizabeth Alexander for Crave Radiance: New and Selected (Graywolf Press)
Stephen Dobyns for Winter's Journey (Copper Canyon Press)
Sean Thomas Dougherty for Sasha Sings the Laundry on the Line (BOA Editions)
Tony Hoagland for Unincorporated Persons in the Late Honda Dynasty (Graywolf Press)
Maxine Kumin for Where I Live: New & Selected (W. W. Norton)
Jim Reese for Ghost On 3rd, (New York Quarterly Books)
Vivian Shipley for All of Your Messages Have Been Erased (Louisiana Literature Press)

2010 Robert Bly for Reaching Out to the World (White Pine  Press)

Judge: Maria Mazziotti Gillan

Finalists (in alphabetical order):
Daniel Donaghy for Start with the Trouble (University of Arkansas Press)
CB Follet for And Freddie Was My Darling (Many Voices Press)
Albert Rios for The Dangerous Shirt (Copper Canyon Press)
Alicia Suskin Ostriker for The Book of Seventy (University of Pittsburgh Press)
Charles Harper Webb for Shadow Bell: New& Selected Poems (U of Pittsburgh Press)
Cecelia Woloch for Carpathia (BOA Editors, Ltd.)

2009 Ruth Stone for What Love Comes To: New and Selected Poems (Copper Canyon Press)

Judge: Jim Haba

Finalists:
Sam Cornish for An Apron Full of Beans (CavanKerry Press)
Linda Gregg for All of It Singing: New & Selected Poems (Graywolf Press)
Anne Marie Macari for She Heads into the Wilderness (Autumn House Press)
W.S. Merwin for The Shadow of Sirius (Copper Canyon Press)
Patricia Smith for Blood Dazzler (Coffee House Press)
Emily Warn for Shadow Architect (Copper Canyon Press)

2008 Albert Goldbarth for The Kitchen Sink (Graywolf Press)

Judge: Denise Duhamel

Finalists:
Edward Field for After the Fall (University of Pittsburgh Press)
David Kirby for The House on Boulevard Street: New and Selected Poems (Louisiana State University Press)

2007 Denise Duhamel for Two and Two (University of Pittsburgh Press)

Judge: Laura Boss

Finalists:
Judith Ortiz Cofer for A Love Story Beginning in Spanish (U of Georgia Press)
Martin Espada for The Republic of Poetry (W.W Norton)
Alicia Suskin Ostriker for No Heaven (University of Pittsburgh Press)
Rochelle Ratner for Balancing Acts (Marsh Hawk Press)
David Ray for Music of Time: Selected and New Poems (Backwaters Press)
Anele Rubin for Trying to Speak (Kent State University Press)

2006 Christopher Bursk for The Improbable Swerving of Atoms (University of Pittsburgh Press)

Judge: Leslie Heywood

Finalists:
Vivian Shipley Hardboot (Louisiana Literature Press)
Luis J. Rodriguez My Nature Is Hunger: New & Selected Poems (Curbstone Press)
Virgil Suárez 90 Miles (University of Pittsburgh Press)
Judith McCombs The Habit of Fire: Poems Selected & New (Word Works)
Eleanor Lerman Our Post-Soviet History Unfolds (Sarabande Books)
Jacqueline Berger Things That Burn (The University of Utah Press)

2005 Ted Kooser for Delights & Shadows (Copper Canyon Press)

Judge: Jack Bedell

Finalists:
Kim Addonizio What Is This Thing Called Love (W.W.Norton)
David Bottoms Waltzing Through the Endtime (Copper Canyon Press)
Alice Fulton Cascade Experiment (W.W. Norton)
Lorna Goodison Controlling the Silver (University of Illinois Press)
Barbara Hamby Babel (University of Pittsburgh Press)
David Huddle Grayscale (Louisiana State University Press)
Mark Jarman To the Green Man (Sarabande Books)

2004 Winner: John E. Smelcer for Without Reservation (Truman State U Press)

Judge: Marilyn Chin

Finalists:
Jan Beatty for Bone Shaker (University of Pittsburgh Press)
Peg Boyers for Hard Bread (University of Chicago Press)
Suzanne Cleary for Keeping Time (Carnegie Mellon University Press)
Sarah Kennedy for Flow Blue (Elixir Press)
Vivian Shipley for Where There Is No Shore (Word Press)
Gloria Vando for Shadows & Supposes (Arte Publico Press)

2003 Winner: Quincy Troupe for Transcircularities (Coffee House Press)

Judge: Laura Boss

Finalists:
Jan Beatty for Bone Shaker (University of Pittsburgh Press)
Peg Boyers for Hard Bread (University of Chicago Press)
Suzanne Cleary for Keeping Time (Carnegie Mellon University Press)
Sarah Kennedy for Flow Blue (Elixir Press)
Vivian Shipley for Where There Is No Shore (Word Press)
Gloria Vando for Shadows & Supposes (Arte Publico Press)

2002 Winner: Lilla Lyon for Hello Mongolia (Ten Pell Press)

Judge: Dorianne Laux

Finalists:
Anjail Rashida Ahmad for Necessary Kindling (Louisiana State University Press)
Nin Andrews for Why They Have Wings (Silverfish Review Press)
James Harms for Quarters (Carnegie Mellon Press)
Suzanne Rhodenbaugh for Lick of Sense (Helicon Nine Editions)
Catie Rosemurgy for My Favorite Apocalypse (Graywolf Press)
Frazier Russel for Lush (Four Way Books)