Inaugural Four Quartets Prize Finalists Announced

The T. S. Eliot Foundation and the Poetry Society of America are pleased to announce the three finalists for the inaugural Four Quartets Prize, which is to be awarded to a unified and complete sequence of poems published in America in a print or online journal, chapbook, or book in 2016 and/or 2017.

The prize is to be presented by the T.S. Eliot Foundation in partnership with the Poetry Society of America and is launching in the 75th anniversary year of the original publication of Four Quartets in a single volume, in America, in 1943. The Four Quartets Prize is first and foremost a celebration of the multi-part poem, which includes entire volumes composed of a unified sequence as well as novels in verse and book-length verse narratives. Guidelines can be found here.

The judges, Linda Gregerson, Ishion Hutchinson, and Jana Prikryl, have selected:

  • Geoffrey G. O'Brien for "Experience in Groups" from Experience in Groups (Wave Books)
  • Kathleen Peirce for Vault: a poem (New Michigan Press)
  • Danez Smith for "summer, somewhere" from Don't Call Us Dead (Graywolf Press)

"We were dazzled by the range and caliber of entries and are thrilled to call attention to the brilliant, inventive work of these three finalists," say the judges.

The three finalists will receive $1,000 each.
The winner will receive an additional $20,000.

Alice Quinn, Executive Director of the Poetry Society of America says, "We hope this extraordinary new prize generously supported by the T.S. Eliot Foundation will inspire poets to consider the expansive possibilities of a unified sequence of poems so superbly realized by Eliot with his Four Quartets and by the three finalists whose work the judges have now held aloft as they move towards their choice of a winner on April 13."

The winner will be announced at a private luncheon at the National Arts Club (15 Gramercy Park, New York, NY 10003) on April 13, 2018 from 2:30pm to 4:30pm.


Geoffrey G. O'Brien is the author of Experience in Groups (Wave Books, forthcoming 2018), People on Sunday (Wave Books, 2013), and Metropole (2011), Green and Gray (2007), and The Guns and Flags Project (2002), all from The University of California Press. His chapbooks included Hesiod (Song Cave, 2010) and Poem with No Good Lines (Hand Held Editions, 2010). He is the coauthor (with John Ashbery and Timothy Donnelly) of Three Poets: Ashbery, Donnelly, O'Brien (Minus A Press, 2012) and (in collaboration with the poet Jeff Clark) of 2A (Quemadura, 2006). O'Brien is an Associate Professor in the English Department at UC Berkeley and also teaches for the Prison University Project at San Quentin State Prison.

Kathleen Peirce is the author of Vault: a poem (New Michigan Press, 2017), The Ardors (Ausable Press, 2004), The Oval Hour (University of Iowa Press, 1999), Mercy (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1991), and Divided Touch, Divided Color (Windhover Press, 1995). Her honors include a National Endowment for the Arts Grant, The AWP Award, The Iowa Prize, The William Carlos Williams Award, and a fellowship from The Whiting Foundation. She lives with her son in Wimberley, Texas, where she teaches at the MFA Program at Texas State University.

Danez Smith is the author of Don't Call Us Dead (Graywolf Press, 2017), a finalist for the National Book Award, and [insert] boy (YesYes Books, 2014), winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award & the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry. Danez is also the author of two chapbooks, hands on your knees (2013, Penmanship Books) and black movie (2015, Button Poetry), winner of the Button Poetry Prize. They are the recipient of fellowships from the Poetry Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Danez is a member of the Dark Noise Collective and is the co-host of VS with Franny Choi, a podcast sponsored by the Poetry Foundation and Postloudness.

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