Poetry News

100K Kingsley Tufts Poetry Prize Open to Submissions

By Harriet Staff

We wonder if you heard? The Los Angeles Times reported yesterday that Yale just created a literary prize aimed at becoming one of the country's most significant, awarding creative writers $150,000 (that's for fiction, nonfiction, and plays), and partly named for Donald Windham. Interestingly, though it's sponsored by a university:

There will not be an open application process for the awards, which are intended to go to both emerging and established writers. A steering committee will solicit nominations, and a panel of judges will select the winners. Windham, who was born in Atlanta and never attended college, requested that those judging the prizes consider writers with no academic affiliation.

But poets need not feel left out, as the LA Times reports today that Claremont Graduate University is now accepting submissions and nominations for their $100,000 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Prize. Criminy. That's apt to be quite a slush pile!

Previous Kingsley Tufts Poetry Prize winners include Chase Twichell, D.A. Powell, Henri Cole and Yusef Komunyakaa. The award was first presented in 1993; it is designed to support the work of a mid-career poet.

Kingsley Tufts was born in Indiana and grew up to become an accountant in Los Angeles. He and his wife, Kate, who both loved poetry, often talked about founding a large poetry prize, should one survive the other.

On Christmas Day 1991, Kingsley Tufts was sitting in a chair at home smoking his pipe when he said he felt dizzy, dropped the pipe and died of a massive heart attack. In 1993, Kate told the L.A. Times his death was "perfect, elegant -- quite in keeping with his life."

She sold the Hollywood Hills home they'd lived in for 25 years to fund the prize. She had inherited the 14-room Craftsman from her father, a doctor, who bought 10.5 acres in 1906 for the now-unimaginable price of $11 an acre. On her own at age 82, Kate moved into a condominium; after her death, the Kate Tufts Discovery Award was established at Claremont Graduate University, giving an award of $10,000 to a poet for his or her debut collection.

Kate and Kingsley Tufts loved poetry. Kingsley was a poet himself whose work was published by the American Scholar and H.L. Mencken's the American Mercury. They privately published some of his work, including a 250-edition holiday gift entitled "There's a Crack in My Martini: A Potpourri for Thinking Drinking."

Complete details about how to submit to the Kingsley and Kate Tufts poetry awards are available online. Books published between Sept. 1, 2010 and Aug. 31, 2011 are eligible; the deadline is September 15.

The Kingsley Tufts award is for mid-career poets--for more on contests, however, might we point you to this great piece by Anis Shivani, which we talked about not so long ago.

Originally Published: June 21st, 2011