The X. J. Kennedy Poetry Prize

Established in 1998, The X. J. Kennedy Prize seeks to publish one full-length collection of poetry per year. Since 2019 the Prize comes with a $10,000 advance, a standard royalty contract, and 20 copies of the published book.

Submissions open each year on July 1 and close on September 30. To submit please visit our online submission manager

The X. J. Kennedy Poetry Prize

2019 Judge: Marilyn Nelson

General Guidelines

Manuscript Guidelines

2019 Judge: Marilyn Nelson

Marilyn Nelson is the author or translator of seventeen poetry books and the memoir How I Discovered Poetry. She is also the author of The Fields Of Praise: New And Selected Poems, which won the 1998 Poets’ Prize, Carver: A Life In Poems, which won the 2001 Boston Globe/Hornbook Award and the Flora Stieglitz Straus Award, and Fortune’s Bones, which was a Coretta Scott King Honor Book and won the Lion and the Unicorn Award for Excellence in North American Poetry. Nelson’s honors include two NEA creative writing fellowships, the 1990 Connecticut Arts Award, a Fulbright Teaching Fellowship, a fellowship from the J.S. Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and the Frost Medal. She was the Poet Laureate of the State of Connecticut from 2001-2006.

  1. J . Kennedy, for whom this competition is named, is a distinguished poet, translator, anthologist, editor, and is the author of numerous books of poetry, children’s literature, and textbooks on English literature. Kennedy won the Poetry Society of America’s Frost Medal for lifetime service to poetry in 2009.

Previous Winners:

2018: Garret Keizer The World Pushes Back 


2017: Jay UdallBecause a Fire in Our Heads


2016: Jeff HardinNo Other Kind of World


2015: Gwen HartThe Empress of Kisses


2014: Corinna McClanahan SchroederInked


2013: Ashley Mace HavirdThe Garden of the Fugitives


2012: Jeff WorleyA Little Luck


2011: James McKeanWe Are the Bus


2010: George DrewThe View from Jackass Hill


2009: Joshua CobenMaker of Shadows


2008: Ashley ReneeBasic Heart


2007: William Baer“Bocage” and Other Sonnets


2006: Becky Gould GibsonAphrodite’s Daughter


2005: Deborah BogenLandscape with Silos


2004: Lee RudolphA Woman and a Man, Ice-Fishing


2003: Eric NelsonTerrestrials


2002: Jan Lee AndeReliquary


2001: Jorn AkeAsleep in the Lightning Fields


2000: Barbara LauThe Long Surprise


1999: Philip HeldrichGood Friday


1998: Gray JacobikThe Surface of Last Scattering