Poet Ross Gay Wins Claremont's $100,000 Tufts Prize

Photo by Kevin GradyPhoto by Kevin Grady
The Associated Press
March 2, 2016

A creative writing instructor from Indiana is this year's winner of Claremont Graduate University's $100,000 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award.

University officials announced Wednesday that Ross Gay was honored for his book "Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude."

The Tufts prize, awarded annually to a mid-career poet, is one of the genre's richest and most prestigious honors.

Claremont also honored Danez Smith, of Ann Arbor, Michigan, with its $10,000 Kate Tufts Discovery Award, presented to a poet who shows great promise.

Smith was cited for the book "(insert) boy."

Gay, who has published three books, teaches at Indiana University in Bloomington. His past honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Radcliffe Institute.

Chief Judge Chase Twichell said the jury was impressed by Gay's "fresh, exploratory and curious" voice.

"Although modest and unpretentious, Ross has an authority that allows him to speak directly into the ear of the reader with a disarming intimacy, one that makes us feel that each poem turns directly toward us as we read," Twichell said. "It's hard to describe, but trust me, it's a rare quality."

Smith, an MFA candidate at the University of Michigan, is two-time Individual World Poetry Slam finalist.

Twichell praised Smith's book as "remarkable for its nervy, surprising, morally urgent poems."

The annual awards were established by Kate Tufts to honor the memory of her husband, a shipping executive who wrote poetry as an avocation.

The poets will receive their awards at a campus ceremony on April 7.

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