The Pulitzer Prize for Letters - Poetry

The Pulitzer Prize is named in honor of Joseph Pulitzer a newspaper publisher in the late 19th century. The awards were established in 1917 and are governed by the Pulitzer Prize Board and awarded by Columbia University. Awards are given in 21 categories for journalism, drama, music, and letters.
Award Year Authors(s) Title
2012 Tracy K. Smith Life on Mars
2011 Kay Ryan The Best of It: New and Selected Poems More than 200 poems, selected by the poet.
2010 Rae Armantrout Versed Rae Armantrout has always organized her collections of poetry as though they were works in themselves. Versed brings two of these sequences together, offering readers an expanded view of the arc of her writing. The invisible and unknowable are confronted directly as Armantrout's experience with cancer marks these poems with a new austerity, shot through with her signature wit and stark unsentimental thinking. Together, the poems of Versed part us from our assumptions about reality, revealing the gaps and fissures in our emotional and linguistic constructs, showing us ourselves where we are most exposed.
2009 W.S. Merwin Shadow of Sirius
2008 Robert Hass Time and Materials In his first poetry collection in a decade, former poet laureate Hass is in great form, simultaneously blithe and commanding.
2008 Philip Schultz Failure
2007 Natasha Trethewey Native Guard Through elegiac verse that honors her mother and tells of her own fraught childhood, Natasha Trethewey confronts the racial legacy of her native Deep South-where one of the first black regiments, the Louisiana Native Guards, was called into service during the Civil War. Trethewey's resonant and beguiling collection is a haunting conversation between personal experience and national history. ~Book jacket
2006 Claudia Emerson Late Wife
2005 Ted Kooser Delights & Shadows For more than thirty years Ted Kooser has written poems that deftly bring dissimilar things into telling unities. Throughout a long and distinguished writing career he has worked toward clarity and accessibility, making a poetry as fresh and spontaneous as a good watercolor. A gyroscope balanced between a child's hands, a jar of buttons that recalls generations of women, and a bird briefly witnessed outside a window -- each reveals the remarkable within an otherwise ordinary world.
2004 Franz Wright Walking to Martha's Vineyard In this radiant new collection, Franz Wright shares his regard for life in all its forms and his belief in the promise of blessing and renewal.
2003 Paul Muldoon Moy Sand and Gravel
2002 Carl Dennis Practical Gods Many of the poems in this new book involve an attempt to enter into dialogue with pagan and biblical perspectives, to throw light on ordinary experience through metaphor borrowed from religious myth and to translate religious myth into secular terms.
2001 Stephen Dunn Different Hours In His Eleventh volume, Stephen Dunn explores the "different hours" not only of a life but also of the historical and philosophical landscape beyond the personal.
2000 C.K. Williams Repair: Poems
1999 Mark Strand Blizzard of One Former U.S. Poet Laureate Mark Strand writes poems that weave between abstraction and the detailed particulars of actual experience. His poems are filled with "the weather of leavetaking", but they are also unexpectedly funny. Strand makes reading poetry a joy, even for those who prefer prose.
1998 Charles Wright Black Zodiac These are poems suffused with spiritual longing, lyrical meditations on faith, religion, heritage, and morality that also explore aging and mortality with restless grace. Entering by way of small moments, Wright magnifies details to reveal a truth much larger than the quotidian happening that engendered it. The result is an astonishing, flexible poetry that, as Helen Vendler has observed, makes Wright a poet who "sounds like nobody else."
1997 Lisel Mueller Alive Together: New and Selected Poems In a collection that represents over thirty-five years of her writing life, this distinguished poet explores a wide range of subjects, which include her cultural and family history and reflect her fascination with music and the discoveries offered by language. In fact, her book is a testament to the miraculous power of language to interpret and transform our world.
1996 Jorie Graham The Dream of the Unified Field For this major collection, spanning twenty years of writing, Jorie Graham has made a generous selection from her five previous volumes of poetry: Hybrids of Plants and of Ghosts, Erosion, The End of Beauty, Region of Unlikeness, and Materialism.
1995 Philip Levine The Simple Truth Philip Levine goes from strength to strength, having received the National Book Ward for Poetry for his earlier book What Work Is. Harold Bloom said, "The controlled pathos of every poem in the volume is immense, and gives me a new sense of Levine."
1994 Yusef Komunyakaa Neon Vernacular: New & Selected Poems
1993 Louise Glück The Wild Iris In The Wild Iris, her most important and accomplished collection to date, ecstatic imagination supplants both empiricism and tradition, creating an impassioned polyphonic exchange among the god who "disclose(s)/virtually nothing", human beings who "leave/signs of feeling/everywhere", and a garden where "whatever/returns from oblivion returns/ to find a voice".
1992 James Tate Selected Poems
1991 Mona Van Duyn Near Changes This work provides a variety of riches surpassing even that of her earlier work. For wit, inventiveness, true feeling and a sharp eye for the passing scene, there is no one better than she.
1990 Charles Simic The World Doesn't End
1989 Richard Wilbur New and Collected Poems This volume represents virtually all of Wilbur's published poetry to date, including his six earlier collections, twenty-seven new poems, and a cantata.
1988 William Meredith Partial Accounts: New and Selected Poems Meredith includes poems on such subjects as opera, crows, roots, battleships, ballet, and the Brooklyn Bridge.
1987 Rita Dove Thomas and Beulah The poems in this unusual book tell a story, forming a narrative almost like a realistic novel. Read in sequence as intended, they tell of the lives of a married black couple from the early part of the century until their deaths in the 1960s, a period that spans the great migration of blacks from rural south to urban north.
1986 Henry Taylor The Flying Change Taylor writes the poems of a country squire -- immersing himself in the beauty of the Blue Ridge mountains, pleasures for which a real farmer has neither the time or inclination.
1985 Carolyn Kizer Yin
1984 Mary Oliver American Primitive
1983 Galway Kinnell Selected Poems Includes fifty representative poems selected from six earlier collections.
1982 Sylvia Plath The Collected Poems Containing everything that celebrated poet Sylvia Plath wrote after 1956, this is one of the most comprehensive collections of her work.
1981 James Schuyler The Morning of the Poem
1980 Donald Justice Selected Poems
1979 Robert Penn Warren Now and Then
1978 Howard Nemerov Collected Poems
1977 James Merrill Divine Comedies
1976 John Ashbery Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror
1975 Gary Snyder Turtle Island
1974 Robert Lowell The Dolphin
1973 Maxine Kumin Up Country
1972 James Wright Collected Poems A collection of authentic, profound and beautiful poems.
1971 W.S. Merwin The Carrier of Ladders
1970 Richard Howard Untitled Subjects
1969 George Oppen Of Being Numerous
1968 Anthony Hecht The Hard Hours
1967 Anne Sexton The Hard Hours
1966 Richard Eberhart Selected Poems
1965 John Berryman 77 Dream Songs
1964 Louis Simpson At the End of the Open Road
1963 William Carlos Williams Pictures from Breughel
1962 Alan Dugan Poems
1961 Phyllis McGinley Times Three: Selected Verse from Three Decades
1960 W.D. Snodgrass Heart's Needle
1959 Stanley Kunitz Selected Poems 1928 - 1958 Stanley Kunitz
1958 Robert Penn Warren Promises: Poems 1954 - 1956
1957 Richard Wilbur Things of This World
1956 Elizabeth Bishop Poems - North & South
1955 Wallace Stevens Collected Poems Wallace Stevens lived long enough to see the establishment of his unquestioned position as one of the significant and enduring poets of twentieth-century America. For more than four decades he had written poetry marked by inclusive thoughtfulness, magical evocativeness of language, and an unmistakable individuality that sets him apart from his confreres. The present volume was published to honor him on his seventy-fifth birthday, October 2, 1954.
1954 Theordore Roethke The Waking
1953 Archibald MacLeish Collected Poems, 1917-1952 This expanded volume of the distinguished poet's work contains 29 previously uncollected poems, some that had been published, and some found in manuscript after MacLeish's death in 1982. This is the definitive volume produced by a life that filled several careers as writer, teacher, and public servant, but was devoted above all to poetry.
1952 Marianne Moore Collected Poems
1951 Carl Sandburg Complete Poems
1950 Gwendolyn Brooks Annie Allen
1949 Peter Viereck Terror and Decorum
1948 W.H. Auden The Age of Anxiety
1947 Robert Lowell Lord Weary's Castle
1946 No Award Given
1945 Karl Shapiro V-Letter and Other Poems
1944 Stephen Vincent Benet Western Star
1943 Robert Frost A Witness Tree
1942 William Rose Benet The Dust Which is God
1941 Leornard Bacon Sunderland Capture
1940 Mark Van Doren Collected Poems
1939 John Gould Fletcher Selected Poems
1938 Marya Zaturenska Cold Morning Sky
1937 Robert Frost A Further Range
1936 Robert P. Tristram Coffin Strange Holiness
1935 Audrey Wurdemann Bright Ambush
1934 Robert Hillyer Collected Verse
1933 Archibald MacLeish Conquistador
1932 George Dillon The Flowering Stone
1931 Robert Frost Collected Poems
1930 Conrad Aiken Selected Poems
1929 Stephen Vincent Benet John Brown's Body One of the most widely read poems of our time--a masterful retelling of the American Civil War.
1928 Edwin Arlington Robinson Tristram
1927 Leonora Speyer Fiddler's Farewell
1926 Amy Lowell What's O' Clock
1925 Edwin Arlington Robinson The Man Who Died Twice
1924 Robert Frost New Hampshire: A Poem With Notes and Grace Notes
1923 Edna St. Vincent Millay The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver, A Few Figs from Thistles, Eight Sonnets in American Poetry, 1922, A Miscellany
1922 Edwin Arlington Robinson Collected Poems
1921 No Award Given
1920 No Award Given
1919 Carl Sandburg Corn Huskers
1919 Margaret Widdemer Old Road to Paradise
1918 Sara Teasdale Love Songs