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The Emily Dickinson First Book Award is designed to recognize an American poet of at least 40 years of age who has yet to publish a first collection of poetry. 

The Poetry Foundation seeks one book-length poetry manuscript to be published as the winner of the Emily Dickinson First Book Award. The competition is open to any American citizen forty years of age or over who has not previously published a book-length volume of poetry. In addition to publication and promotion of the manuscript by Graywolf Press, the winner will receive a prize of $10,000.

Poetry Foundation Announces Kristen Tracy Winner of 2017 Emily Dickinson First Book Award

The Poetry Foundation is pleased to announce that poet Kristen Tracy has won the 2017 Emily Dickinson First Book Award for her manuscript Half-Hazard. The occasional prize (last awarded in 2012) is designed to recognize an American poet at least 40-years-old who has yet to publish a first collection of poetry. Tracy’s manuscript Half-Hazard, which was previously a finalist for the Yale Younger Poet Prize and a semi-finalist for the Walt Whitman Award and Sarabande Books’ Kathryn A. Morton Prize, will be published by Graywolf Press in 2018. Tracy will be honored at the Pegasus Awards ceremony at the Poetry Foundation on June 12.

Kristen Tracy grew up in a small Mormon farming community in Idaho. She earned an MA in American Literature from Brigham Young University, an MFA from Vermont College, and a PhD in English from Western Michigan University. Her poems have appeared in more than two dozen literary journals.

“The Poetry Foundation is proud to recognize Kristen Tracy, whose manuscript was selected from more than one thousand submissions to this year’s Emily Dickinson First Book Award contest, and to partner with Graywolf Press in publishing these distinctive poems,” said Poetry Foundation President Henry Bienen.

In describing Half-Hazard, Jeff Shotts, Executive Editor at Graywolf Press, noted that it is “full of warnings and dangers, as well as wry observations, and also full of a kind of joy made sweeter by its being earned, lived, and perceived.” Shotts continued, “It’s a great honor for Graywolf to publish Tracy’s unusual and accomplished debut through our ongoing collaboration with the Poetry Foundation and the Emily Dickinson First Book Award. Discovering important new voices is at the heart of this award and the missions of both the Press and the Foundation.”

Tracy’s book, Half-Hazard, is scheduled to be published by Graywolf Press in fall of 2018. The Poetry Foundation will release a press announcement upon publication.