The X. J. Kennedy Poetry Prize

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$10,000 + Publication + Residency at Vermont Studio Center

2024 Judge: Diane Seuss

Established in 1998, The X. J. Kennedy Poetry Prize highlights one full-length collection of poetry per year. Since 2024, the Prize comes with a $10,000 advance, TRP's X. J. Kennedy Poetry Prize Fellowship at Vermont Studio Center, a standard royalty contract, and 10 copies of the published book.

Recent judges include Richard Blanco, Kimiko Hahn, Kazim Ali, Maggie Smith, and Marilyn Nelson.

Submissions open each year on July 1 and close on September 30.

Winner of the 2023 X. J. Kennedy Poetry Prize:

The Book of Drought, by Rob Carney

Selected by Richard Blanco

Submission Guidelines

Submit to The X. J. Kennedy Poetry Prize

General Guidelines

*Writers who studied with the final judge or TRP staff for a semester-length period are not eligible. Writers who studied with the final judge or TRP staff for two-week residencies, single workshops, or other instances less than a semester in length are eligible, provided the work submitted is previously unseen by TRP staff or the final judge.

Manuscript Guidelines

Submit to The X. J. Kennedy Poetry Prize

TRP’s X. J. Kennedy Poetry Prize Fellowship at Vermont Studio Center

Vermont Studio Center (VSC) and TRP: The University Press of SHSU (TRP) are pleased to announce a partnership to offer the TRP’s X. J. Kennedy Poetry Prize Fellowship at Vermont Studio Center. This fellowship offers a three-week residency, in the summer, to a recipient of the X. J. Kennedy Prize and includes a private studio space, a private room in shared lodging, access to the Visiting Artists & Writers Program, and all meals. The X. J. Kennedy Poetry Prize Fellow at VSC will join an inclusive international community of artists and writers located in northern Vermont.

Learn more about Vermont Studio Center

Contest Judge: Diane Seuss

Seuss, Diane (Gabrielle Montesanti).jpgDiane Seuss is the author of six books of poetry. Her most recent collection is Modern Poetry (Graywolf Press 2024). frank: sonnets (Graywolf Press 2021), was the winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Pulitzer Prize. Seuss was a 2020 Guggenheim Fellow. She received the John Updike Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2021. Seuss was recently elected as a chancellor for the Academy of American Poets. Seuss was raised by a single mother in rural Michigan, which she continues to call home.


X. 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 & Judges:

2023: Rob Carney – The Book of Drought
         Judged by Richard Blanco

2022: Sebastian Merrill – GHOST :: SEEDS
         Judged by Kimiko Hahn

2021: Kathleen Rooney – Where Are the Snows
         Judged by Kazim Ali

2020: Brooke Sahni – Before I Had the Word
         Judged by Maggie Smith

2019: Caroline M. Mar  Special Education
         Judged by Marilyn Nelson

2018: Garret Keizer  The World Pushes Back
         Judged by Jesse Graves

2017: Jay Udall – Because a Fire in Our Heads
         Judged by David M. Parsons

2016: Jeff Hardin – No Other Kind of World
         Judged by X. J. Kennedy

2015: Gwen Hart – The Empress of Kisses
         Judged by Beth Ann Fennelly

2014: Corinna McClanahan Schroeder – Inked
         Judged by William Virgil Davis

2013: Ashley Mace Havird – The Garden of the Fugitives
         Judged by R. T. Smith

2012: Jeff Worley – A Little Luck
         Judged by Sandra Beasley

2011: James McKean – We Are the Bus
         Judged by David Bottoms

2010: George Drew – The View from Jackass Hill
         Judged by Robert Phillips

2009: Joshua CobenMaker of Shadows

2008: Ashley Renee – Basic Heart
         Judged by Jack Myers

2007: William Baer – “Bocage” and Other Sonnets

2006: Becky Gould Gibson – Aphrodite’s Daughter

2005: Deborah Bogen – Landscape with Silos
         Judged by Jean Valentine

2004: Lee Rudolph – A Woman and a Man, Ice-Fishing
         Judged by John Hollander

2003: Eric Nelson – Terrestrials
         Judged by Maxine Kumin

2002: Jan Lee Ande – Reliquary
         Judged by Louis Simpson

2001: Jorn Ake – Asleep in the Lightning Fields
         Judged by Henry Taylor

2000: Barbara Lau – The Long Surprise
         Judged by X. J. Kennedy

1999: Philip Heldrich – Good Friday
         Judged by X. J. Kennedy

1998: Gray Jacobik – The Surface of Last Scattering
         Judged by Brian Clements