The 2016 Yale Series of Younger Poets Winner: Airea D. Matthews

Yale University Press is pleased to announce a winner in the 2016 Yale Series of Younger Poets competition. The judge, prize-winning and critically acclaimed poet Carl Phillips, has chosen Airea D. Matthews’s manuscript, simulacra.

Series judge Carl Phillips says: “Rebellion is the first word that comes to mind, when reading simulacra, Airea Matthews’s rollicking, destabilizing, at once intellectually sly and piercing and finally poignant debut. The main rebellion here is against all formal expectations of what a book of poetry is or ‘should’ be – Narcissus communicates by Tweets, Anne Sexton sends texts from death to a recipient who may or may not be dead; there’s a miniature opera; there are upended nods to the epistolary tradition, prose poems, even a Barthes-influenced calculus. The subject matter is no less various – from miscegenation to Gertrude Stein, from estranged love to Wittgenstein — but a particular constant is the theme of wanting: on one hand, wanting as desire, for safety, for faith, for a way to know the self; and on the other hand, wanting as lack, lack both as emptiness and as a motivating force behind the quest for an end to emptiness. And if language itself is empty, and all we have, when it comes to knowing? This is the governing, haunting question behind these always meaningfully provocative poems – poems, yes, but very much, also, poems as epistemology.”

Yale University Press will publish simulacra in April 2017. The manuscript is Phillips’s sixth selection as judge and the 111th volume in the series. Carl Phillips’s fourth selection, Noah Warren’s The Destroyer in the Glass will be published by Yale University Press on March 29, 2016.

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The Destroyer in the Glass

2015 Winner

Noah Warren

The 2015 recipient of the Yale Series of Younger Poets prize, Noah Warren’s extraordinary collection The Destroyer in the Glass, weds form and intellect with insight, humor, and heart, this volume explores the desire for isolation and the ache for human connection on terms both personal and universal.


History of the Prize

The Yale Series of Younger Poets champions the most promising new American poets. Awarded since 1919, the Yale Younger Poets prize is the oldest annual literary award in the United States. Past winners include Muriel Rukeyser, Adrienne Rich, William Meredith, W.S. Merwin, John Ashbery, John Hollander, James Tate, and Carolyn Forché. Louise Glück was the judge of the Series from 2003-2010, and Carl Phillips is the current judge.