Robert Shaw, Emily Dickinson Professor of English at Mount Holyoke, has been awarded the 2013 Poets’ Prize for his book Aromatics. Shaw shares the $4,000 prize with David Wojahn from Virginia Commonwealth University.
The Poets’ Prize is awarded annually for the best book of verse published in the past two years by a living American poet. A committee of about 20 American poets, who each nominate two books and serve as judges, donates the prize.
“I am always grateful for professional recognition, but the unusual nature and history of this award appeals to me in a special way,” said Shaw. “As far as I know, the Poets’ Prize is something unique: an award founded, administered, and even funded by poets.”
In Aromatics (2011, Pinyon Publishing), Shaw explores memory, literature, and the New England landscape. He is the author of five previous books of poetry, including Solving for X (2002), which won the Hollis Summers Prize. For his prose work, Blank Verse: A Guide to Its History and Use (2007), he received the Robert Fitzgerald Award.
“It is extremely encouraging to have one’s work approved by one’s peers,” he said. “It comes as a welcome reminder that although writing is a solitary endeavor, there is a community to which any poet can and should feel connected: all of us who are captivated by words and trying to do our best by them.”
Shaw will receive his prize at a ceremony at the Nicholas Roerich Museum in New York City on May 16.