The Sewanee Review is pleased to announce that Patricia Smith is the recipient of the 2023 Aiken Taylor Award for Modern American Poetry.
Photo by Beowulf Sheehan
Patricia Smith is the author of nine collections of poetry including Incendiary Art, winner of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award and finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and Blood Dazzler, which was a finalist for the National Book Award. Her most recent collection, which was released earlier this year, is Unshuttered. Smith is also the author of the children’s book Janna and the Kings, and the history Africans in America, a companion book to the award-winning PBS series. She is also a four-time individual champion of the National Poetry Slam.
University Vice-Chancellor Dr. Robert Pearigen and Sewanee Review editor Adam Ross will present Smith with the Aiken Taylor Award this September at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. As part of this year’s award celebration, poet and critic Joy Priest will lecture on Smith’s poetry. Priest is the author of Horsepower, which won the Donald Hall Prize for Poetry, and the editor of Once a City Said: A Louisville Poets Anthology. She is a National Endowment for the Arts fellow and a Fine Arts Work Center fellow, and this fall will be joining the University of Pittsburgh as an Assistant Professor in African American/African Diaspora Poetry and the curator of Community Programs and Praxis at the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics.
“My job,” one of Smith’s poems tells us, “is to draw the pictures no one can voice, / to soothe and bellow toward the numbed heart.” We hope you will join us in celebrating Patricia Smith, whose work speaks to and for us in a multiplicity of forms, registers, and voices but is singular and supremely vital in its impact on the landscape of American letters.