Pulitzer Prize for Poetry winners

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  1. Sylvia Plath

    Sylvia Plath


    Sylvia Plath (/plæθ/; October 27, 1932 – February 11, 1963) was an American poet, novelist, and short-story writer. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, she studied at Smith College and Newnham College at the University of Cambridge, before receiving acclaim as a poet and writer. She married fellow poet Ted Hughes in 1956; they lived together in the United States and then England, and had two children, Frieda and Nicholas. Plath was clinically depressed for most of her adult life. She committed suicide in 1963.

  2. Carl Sandburg

    Carl Sandburg


    Carl August Sandburg (January 6, 1878 – July 22, 1967) was an American poet, writer, and editor who won three Pulitzer Prizes, two for his poetry and one for his biography of Abraham Lincoln. During his lifetime, Sandburg was widely regarded as "a major figure in contemporary literature", especially for volumes of his collected verse, including Chicago Poems (1916), Cornhuskers (1918), and Smoke and Steel (1920). He enjoyed "unrivaled appeal as a poet in his day, perhaps because the breadth of his experiences connected him with so many strands of American life", and at his death in 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson observed that "Carl Sandburg was more than the voice of America, more than the poet of its strength and genius. He was America."

  3. W.H. Auden

    W.H. Auden


    Wystan Hugh Auden (/ˈwɪstən ˈhjuː ˈɔːdən/; 21 February 1907 – 29 September 1973) was an Anglo-American poet, born in England, an American citizen (from 1946), and regarded by many critics as one of the greatest writers of the 20th century. His work is noted for its stylistic and technical achievement, its engagement with moral and political issues, and its variety in tone, form and content. The central themes of his poetry are love, politics and citizenship, religion and morals, and the relationship between unique human beings and the anonymous, impersonal world of nature.

  4. Edna St. Vincent Millay

    Edna St. Vincent Millay


    Edna St. Vincent Millay (February 22, 1892 – October 19, 1950) was an American lyrical poet and playwright. She received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1923, the third woman to win the award for poetry, and was also known for her feminist activism and her many love affairs. She used the pseudonym Nancy Boyd for her prose work. The poet Richard Wilbur asserted, "She wrote some of the best sonnets of the century."

  5. Robert Frost

    Robert Frost


    Robert Lee Frost (March26, 1874 – January29, 1963) was an American poet. His work was initially published in England before it was published in America. He is highly regarded for his realistic depictions of rural life and his command of American colloquial speech. His work frequently employed settings from rural life in New England in the early twentieth century, using them to examine complex social and philosophical themes. One of the most popular and critically respected American poets of the twentieth century, Frost was honored frequently during his lifetime, receiving four Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry. He became one of America's rare "public literary figures, almost an artistic institution." He was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 1960 for his poetical works. On July 22, 1961, Frost was named Poet laureate of Vermont.

  6. Maxine Kumin

    Maxine Kumin


    Maxine Kumin (June 6, 1925 – February 6, 2014) was an American poet and author. She was appointed Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1981–1982.

  7. Anne Sexton

    Anne Sexton


    Anne Sexton (November 9, 1928 – October 4, 1974) was an American poet, known for her highly personal, confessional verse. She won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1967 for her book Live or Die. Themes of her poetry include her long battle against depression and mania, suicidal tendencies, and various intimate details from her private life, including her relationships with her husband and children.

  8. Archibald Macleish

    Archibald Macleish


    Archibald MacLeish (May 7, 1892 – April 20, 1982) was an American poet, writer, and the Librarian of Congress. He is associated with the Modernist school of poetry. He received three Pulitzer Prizes for his work.

  9. Conrad Aiken

    Conrad Aiken


    Conrad Potter Aiken (August 5, 1889 – August 17, 1973) was an American writer, whose work includes poetry, short stories, novels, a play, and an autobiography.

  10. Gwendolyn Brooks

    Gwendolyn Brooks


    Gwendolyn Elizabeth Brooks (June 7, 1917 – December 2, 2000) was an American poet and teacher. She was the first black person (the term she preferred to African-American) to win a Pulitzer prize when she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1950 for her second collection, Annie Allen.

  11. Robert Penn Warren

    Robert Penn Warren


    Robert Penn Warren (April 24, 1905 – September 15, 1989) was an American poet, novelist, and literary critic and was one of the founders of New Criticism. He was also a charter member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers. He founded the influential literary journal The Southern Review with Cleanth Brooks in 1935. He received the 1947 Pulitzer Prize for the Novel for his novel All the King's Men (1946) and the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1958 and 1979. He is the only person to have won Pulitzer Prizes for both fiction and poetry.

  12. Sara Teasdale

    Sara Teasdale


    Sara Teasdale (August 8, 1884 – January 29, 1933) was an American lyric poet. She was born Sara Trevor Teasdale in St. Louis, Missouri, and used the name Sara Teasdale Filsinger after her marriage in 1914.

  13. Elizabeth Bishop

    Elizabeth Bishop


    Elizabeth Bishop (February 8, 1911 – October 6, 1979) was an American poet and short-story writer. Poet Laureate of the United States from 1949 to 1950, the Pulitzer Prize winner for Poetry in 1956, the National Book Award winner in 1970, and the recipient of the Neustadt International Prize for Literature in 1976.

  14. Audrey Wurdemann

    Audrey Wurdemann


    Audrey Wurdemann (January 1, 1911 – May 20, 1960 Coral Gables, Florida) was an American poet. She was the youngest winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry at the age of 24, for her collection Bright Ambush.

  15. Stephen Vincent Benet

    Stephen Vincent Benet


    Stephen Vincent Benét (July 22, 1898 – March 13, 1943) was an American author, poet, short story writer, and novelist. Benét is best known for his book-length narrative poem of the American Civil War, John Brown's Body (1928), for which he won a Pulitzer Prize in 1929, and for two short stories, "The Devil and Daniel Webster" (1936) and "By the Waters of Babylon" (1937). In 2009, The Library of America selected Benét’s story "The King of the Cats" (1929) for inclusion in its two-century retrospective of American Fantastic Tales, edited by Peter Straub.

  16. Gary Snyder

    Gary Snyder


    Gary Snyder (born May 8, 1930) is an American man of letters. Perhaps best known as a poet (often associated with the Beat Generation and the San Francisco Renaissance), he is also an essayist, lecturer, and environmental activist. He has been described as the "poet laureate of Deep Ecology". Snyder is a winner of a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and the American Book Award. His work, in his various roles, reflects an immersion in both Buddhist spirituality and nature. Snyder has translated literature into English from ancient Chinese and modern Japanese. For many years, Snyder served as a faculty member at the University of California, Davis, and he also served for a time on the California Arts Council.

  17. Charles Simic

    Charles Simic


    Dušan "Charles" Simić (Serbian: Душан "Чарлс" Симић born 9 May 1938) is a Serbian-American poet and was co-poetry editor of the Paris Review. He received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1990 for The World Doesn't End, and was a finalist of the Pulitzer Prize in 1986 for Selected Poems, 1963-1983 and in 1987 for Unending Blues. He was appointed the fifteenth Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 2007.

  18. Stanley Kunitz

    Stanley Kunitz


    Stanley Jasspon Kunitz (/ˈkjuːnɪts/; July 29, 1905 – May 14, 2006) was an American poet. He was appointed Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress twice, first in 1974 and then again in 2000.

  19. Natasha Trethewey

    Natasha Trethewey


    Natasha Trethewey (born April 26, 1966) is an American poet who was appointed United States Poet Laureate in June 2012; she began her official duties in September. She won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for her 2006 collection Native Guard, and she is the Poet Laureate of Mississippi.

  20. Robert Lowell

    Robert Lowell


    Robert Traill Spence Lowell IV (/ˈləl/; March 1, 1917 – September 12, 1977) was an American poet. He was born into a Boston Brahmin family that could trace its origins back to the Mayflower. His family, past and present, were important subjects in his poetry. Growing up in Boston also informed his poems, which were frequently set in Boston and the New England region. The literary scholar Paula Hayes believes that Lowell mythologized New England, particularly in his early work.

  21. W. S. Merwin

    W. S. Merwin


    William Stanley Merwin (born September 30, 1927) is an American poet, credited with over fifty books of poetry, translation and prose. During the 1960s anti-war movement, Merwin's unique craft was thematically characterized by indirect, unpunctuated narration. In the 1980s and 1990s, Merwin's writing influence derived from his interest in Buddhist philosophy and deep ecology. Residing in Hawaii, he writes prolifically and is dedicated to the restoration of the islands' rainforests.

  22. Richard Eberhart

    Richard Eberhart


    Richard Ghormley Eberhart (April 5, 1904 – June 9, 2005) was an American poet who published more than a dozen books of poetry and approximately twenty works in total. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for Selected Poems, 1930–1965 and the 1977 National Book Award for Poetry for Collected Poems, 1930–1976. He is the grandfather of former Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington.

  23. Galway Kinnell

    Galway Kinnell


    Galway Kinnell (February 1, 1927 – October 28, 2014) was an American poet. For his 1982 Selected Poems he won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and split the National Book Award for Poetry with Charles Wright. From 1989 to 1993 he was poet laureate for the state of Vermont.

  24. James Merrill

    James Merrill


    James Ingram Merrill (March 3, 1926 – February 6, 1995) was an American poet whose awards include the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (1977) for Divine Comedies (1976). His poetry falls into two distinct bodies of work: the polished and formalist lyric poetry of his early career, and the epic narrative of occult communication with spirits and angels, titled The Changing Light at Sandover (published in three volumes from 1976 to 1980), which dominated his later career. Although most of his published work was poetry, he also wrote essays, fiction, and plays.

  25. William Carlos Williams

    William Carlos Williams


    William Carlos Williams (September 17, 1883 – March 4, 1963) was an American poet closely associated with modernism and imagism. Williams is often counted as being among a group of four major American poets who were all born in a twelve-year period that began in 1874. The group also consists of Robert Frost, who was born in 1874; Wallace Stevens, who was born in 1879; and Hilda "H.D." Doolittle, who was born in 1886. Of these four, Williams died last, several weeks after Frost. (Stevens was first to die, in 1955, while H.D. lived until 1961).

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