Carl Phillips Wins Jackson Poetry Prize, $75,000 Award

Poets & Writers announced that Carl Phillips is the recipient of the 2021 Jackson Poetry Prize. The prize is awarded annually by Poets & Writers to an American poet of exceptional talent. Endowed by John and Susan Jackson, the prize carries a monetary award, increased this year to $75,000, and aims to provide what poets need: time and encouragement to write.

Three judges—acclaimed poets Jericho Brown, Carolyn Forché, and Juan Felipe Herrera—selected Phillips from a group of nineteen nominees who, in turn, were nominated by nineteen poets.

In their citation the judges noted: “Phillips is a love poet; he wants to know what one human has to do with another, what one owes another, and how all of this translates into desire and the capacity to inspire moral or immoral reactions.” The judges praised Phillips for producing “poems that sustain our contemplation, disrupt our complacencies, and leave us changed.” The reader, they assert, “has no choice but to see affirmed the chronicle of a life deeply lived.” Read the full citation.

Phillips is the author of fifteen books of poetry and teaches at Washington University in St. Louis. Upon learning that he is this year’s Jackson Poetry Prize winner, he said: “I'm immensely grateful to the judges for their belief in my work—encouragement and confirmation are always wonderful, of course, at any time, but there’s something especially meaningful when those come at the later end of a writing life: it means what I do has not only mattered to others, but still matters. And that makes all the difference when it comes to setting off all over again in search of the next poem.”

Poets & Writers will host a virtual celebration in honor of Carl Phillips in June. For more details, visit