Patricia Smith Wins Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry

Posted on January 7, 2015

Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah by Patricia Smith

Patricia Smith has won the 2014 Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry for her book, Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah. The prize is awarded by the Library of Congress for the most distinguished book of poetry published in the preceding two years.

This is the 13th time the prize has been awarded. The biennial prize carries a $10,000 prize. The family of Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt of Austin, Texas donated the prize in her memory. Rebekah Bobbitt was President Lyndon B. Johnson's sister.

Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah was published by Coffee House Press in 2012. The book features poems about the second wave of the Great Migration when millions of African Americans relocated from the South to cities in the Northeast, Midwest and West. The poetry in the book includes spoken word, free verse and traditional poetry forms. The book also won the 2013 Wheatley Book Award in Poetry and the 2013 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize. It was also a finalist for the 2013 William Carlos Williams Award.

Patricia Smith will receive the award and read from her work at 7 p.m. on Feb. 17, 2015 in the Montpelier Room on the sixth floor of the James Madison Building. The free reading is open to the public. The 2012 Bobbitt Prize was won by Gerald Stern for his poetry collection, Early Collected Poems: 1965–1992.

Photo: Coffee House Press

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