Award Winners

2009 Frost Medalist

X. J. Kennedy


At Paestum

Our bus maintains a distance-runner's pace.
    Lurching on tires scraped bare as marrowbones,
It hauls us past a teeming marketplace.
    We shun life. What we're after is old stones.

Pillars the Greeks erected with a crane
    Went up in sections as canned fruit is stacked.
An accurate spear could pierce a soldier's brain
    Before he'd even known he'd been attacked.

Bright fresco of a wild symposium
    With busy whores, nude boys, a choice of wines—
("And where in Massachusetts are you from?")
    Abruptly, snowdrifts clasp the Apennines.

"Wouldn't you think him practically alive?"
    Says someone of a youth fresh out of school
Painted upon a tomb, who makes a dive
    Into the next world's waiting swimmingpool.

Lunch is a belch-fest: rigatoni, beer.
    A sawtoothed wind slices through fat-topped pines.
Weathered white temple columns linger here
    Like gods who went away and left their spines.




From In a
Prominent Bar in Secaucus: New and Selected Poems: 1955-2007 (John Hopkins, 2007). All rights reserved. Reprinted with the permission of the author.


All Winners

2022

Sharon Olds

2021

N. Scott Momaday

2020

Toi Derricotte

2019

Eleanor Wilner

2018

Ron Padgett

2017

Susan Howe

2016

Grace Schulman

2015

Kamau Brathwaite

2014

Gerald Stern

2013

Robert Bly

2011

Charles Simic

2001

Sonia Sanchez

2000

Anthony Hecht

1999

Barbara Guest

1998

Stanley Kunitz

1997

Josephine Jacobsen

1996

Richard Wilbur

1995

John Ashbery

1994

A. R. Ammons

1993

William Stafford

1992

Adrienne Rich
David Ignatow

1991

Donald Hall

1990

James Laughlin
Denise Levertov

1989

Gwendolyn Brooks

1988

Carolyn Kizer

1987

Sterling Brown
Robert Creeley

1986

Richard Eberhart
Allen Ginsberg

1985

Robert Penn Warren

1984

Jack Stadler

1976

A. M. Sullivan

1974

John Hall Wheelock

1971

Melville Cane

1967

Marianne Moore

1955

Leona Speyer

1952

Carl Sandburg

1951

Wallace Stevens

1947

Gustav Davidson

1943

Edna St. Vincent Millay

1942

Edgar Lee Masters

1941

Robert Frost