Award Winners

2012 Frost Medalist

Marilyn Nelson


How I Discovered Poetry

It was like soul-kissing, the way the words
filled my mouth as Mrs. Purdy read from her desk.
All the other kids zoned an hour ahead to 3:15,
but Mrs. Purdy and I wandered lonely as clouds borne
by a breeze off Mount Parnassus. She must have seen
the darkest eyes in the room brim: The next day
she gave me a poem she'd chosen especially for me
to read to the all except for me white class.
She smiled when she told me to read it, smiled harder,
said oh yes I could. She smiled harder and harder
until I stood and opened my mouth to banjo playing
darkies, pickaninnies, disses and dats. When I finished
my classmates stared at the floor. We walked silent
to the buses, awed by the power of words.




All rights reserved. Reprinted with the permission of the author.


All Winners

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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