Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize

Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize

Established in 1981, the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize is administered by the
University of Pittsburgh Press. Named in honor of Agnes Lynch Starrett, the Press’s
first director, the prize is awarded for a first full-length book of poems.

The prize carries a cash award of $5,000 and publication by the University of
Pittsburgh Press as part of the Pitt Poetry Series. The series is edited by Ed Ochester, who also serves as final judge in the Starrett competition.

2017 Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize

I Can't Talk About the Trees Without the Blood

If Tiana Clark’s I Can’t Talk about the Trees without the Blood were a blank book bearing that title alone, I would still feel like I was in the presence of a profound lyric gift. It’s astonishing, the heft of that declaration, and the way these poems rise up to meet its rigor and clarity. Toni Morrison commanded writers to ‘make it political as hell, and make it irrevocably beautiful.’ Clark, as if in response, writes, ‘Let us marvel at the Love and Grace that bought / and brought us here.’ The formal dexterity of these poems, the vision that takes us from Daphne to Lorca to Phillis Wheatley to Balanchine to Rihanna to Rukeyser, announces a significant and comprehensive new poetic talent. This beauty is irrevocable—Clark has written one of the best first books of poetry I have ever read.

Kaveh Akbar

past winners

2016
Let's All Die Happy

Let's All Die Happy

By Erin Adair-Hodges

2015
In the Volcano's Mouth

In the Volcano's Mouth

By Miriam Bird Greenberg

2014
Wild Hundreds

Wild Hundreds

By Nate Marshall

2013
Best Bones

Best Bones

By Sarah Rose Nordgren

2012
Keeper

Keeper

By Kasey Jueds

2011
Salt Pier

Salt Pier

By Dore Kiesselbach

2010
Predatory

Predatory

By Glenn Shaheen

2009
Paper Anniversary

Paper Anniversary

By Bobby C. Rogers

2008
In Praise of Falling

In Praise of Falling

By Cheryl Dumesnil

2007
Dismantling the Hills

Dismantling the Hills

By Michael McGriff

2006
Velocity

Velocity

By Nancy Krygowski

2005
Brother Salvage

Brother Salvage

By Rick Hilles

2004
Blue on Blue Ground

Blue on Blue Ground

By Aaron Smith

2003
High Water Mark

High Water Mark

By David Shumate

2002
Pulling a Dragon’s Teeth

Pulling a Dragon’s Teeth

By Shao Wei

2001
A Defense of Poetry

A Defense of Poetry

By Gabriel Gudding

2000
Asylum

Asylum

By Quan Barry

1999
She Didn’t Mean to Do It

She Didn’t Mean to Do It

By Daisy Fried

1998
The Water Between Us

The Water Between Us

By Shara McCallum

1997
 City of a Hundred Fires

City of a Hundred Fires

By Richard Blanco

1996
Red Peony Night

Red Peony Night

By Helen Conkling

1995
Pears, Lake, Sun

Pears, Lake, Sun

By Sandy Solomon

1994
Mad River

Mad River

By Jan Beatty

1993
Red Under the Skin

Red Under the Skin

By Natasha Saje

1992
The Domestic Life

The Domestic Life

By Hunt Hawkins

1991
Sleeping Preacher

Sleeping Preacher

By Julia Kasdorf

1990
Walking Distance

Walking Distance

By Debra Allbery

1989
The Face in the Water

The Face in the Water

By Nancy Vieira Couto

1988
Toluca Street

Toluca Street

By Maxine Scates

1987
Torque

Torque

By David Rivard

1986
Kingdoms of the Ordinary

Kingdoms of the Ordinary

By Robley Wilson, Jr.

1984
Elegy on Independence Day

Elegy on Independence Day

By Aaron Smith

1983
The White Wave

The White Wave

By Kate Daniels

1982
Shouting at No One

Shouting at No One

By Lawrence Joseph

1981
Heart of the Garfish

Heart of the Garfish

By Kathy Callaway