Book Award Judges

CPR Book Award Judges

2020 –

Amber Flora Thomas is the author of Eye of Water: Poems which was selected by Harryette Mullen as the winner of the 2004 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. Her other books include, The Rabbits Could Sing: Poems (University of Alaska Press, 2012) and Red Channel in the Rupture: Poems (Red Hen Press, 2018). Her poetry has appeared in The New England Review, Tin House, Ecotone, Callaloo, Orion Magazine, Alaska Quarterly Review, Saranac Review, and Third Coast, as well as Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetry, and numerous other journals and anthologies.

Thomas has taught at the Cave Canem annual retreat and the Bread Loaf Environmental Writers Conference. She has received fellowships from Yaddo, Atlantic Center for the Arts, Bread Loaf Writers Conference, and Sewanee Writers Conference. She earned an MFA at Washington University in St. Louis, MO. She was born and raised in northern California.

Currently she is an Associate Professor of Creative Writing at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina.

2019 – Lesley Wheeler

Lesley Wheeler, author of Radioland, Heterotopia, and the chapbook Propagation, has three books forthcoming in 2020 and 2021: Unbecoming, her first novel; The State She’s In, her fifth full-length poetry collection; and Poetry’s Possible Worlds, a suite of hybrid essays.

New poems and essays appear in Massachusetts Review, Ecotone, The Common, Gettysburg Review, and other journals. Recipient of fellowships from Fulbright and the National Endowment for the Humanities, she has also published articles and books about poetry’s media and networks, including Voicing American Poetry: Sound and Performance from the 1920s to the Present.

Wheeler is the Henry S. Fox Professor of English at Washington and Lee University in Virginia, where she serves as Poetry Editor of Shenandoah.

2018 – Leona Sevick

Leona SevickLeona Sevick is the winner of the 2017 Press 53 Poetry Award for her first full-length book of poems, Lion Brothers.  Her poems appear in The Journal, Atlanta Review, PreludeThe Florida Review, Verse Daily, Crab Orchard Review, Fifth Wednesday Journal, The Normal School, The Arkansas International, The Southeast Review and elsewhere.

Her work also appears in the anthologies All We Can Hold: Poems of Motherhood (Sage Hill Press, 2016), Circe’s Lament: Anthology of Wild Women Poetry (Accents Publishing, 2016), and The Golden Shovel Anthology: New Poems Honoring Gwendolyn Brooks (Univ. of Arkansas Press, 2017, foreward by Terrance Hayes).

Sevick is the 2012 first place winner of the Split This Rock poetry contest, judged by Naomi Shihab Nye. She was a semi-finalist for the 2015 Philip Levine Poetry Prize and a finalist for the 2016 John Ciardi Prize. In 2018 she was named a Tennessee Williams Scholar for the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and her work was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Sevick earned a doctorate in English language and literature at the University of Maryland in 2002. She serves as a member of the advisory board for the Furious Flower Poetry Center and is provost at Bridgewater College in Virginia, where she teaches Asian American literature.

2017 – Lauren Alleyne

Lauren AlleyneLauren K. Alleyne is the author of Difficult Fruit (Peepal Tree Press, 2014). She holds an MFA in Poetry and a graduate certificate in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from Cornell University, and an MA in English and Creative Writing from Iowa State University. Alleyne’s fiction, non-fiction, interviews, and poetry have been widely published in journals and anthologies such as Women’s Studies QuarterlyGuernicaThe Caribbean WriterBlack Arts QuarterlyThe Cimarron Review, Crab Orchard Review,Gathering Ground, and Growing Up Girl, among others. Her work has earned several honors and awards, most recently the Picador Guest Professorship in Literature at the University of Leipzig, Germany, a 2014 Iowa Arts Council Fellowship, and first place in the 2016 Split This Rock Poetry Contest. Alleyne is a Cave Canem graduate, and is originally from Trinidad and Tobago. She is currently Assistant Director of the Furious Flower Poetry Center and an Associate Professor of English at James Madison University.

2016 – Anne Harding Woodworth

Anne Harding WoodworthAnne Harding Woodworth’s most recent book of poetry is Unattached Male (Poetry Salzburg, 2014). It is her fifth collection. Her poetry, essays, and reviews are published widely in journals in the U.S. and abroad. She divides her time between a cabin in the mountains of Western North Carolina and her home in Washington, D.C., where she is on the Poetry Board at the Folger Shakespeare Library.

Linda Pastan2015 – Linda Pastan

Linda Pastan grew up in New York City, graduated from Radcliffe College in 1954, and received an MA from Brandeis University. She has published 13 volumes of poetry, most recently Traveling Light. Two of these books have been finalists for the National Book Award, one for The Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Her 14th book, Insomnia, is due from Norton in the fall of 2015. Pastan was Poet Laureate of Maryland from 1991 to 1995. She taught for several years at American University and was on the staff of the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference for 20 years. She has won numerous awards, including The Radcliffe Distinguished Alumni Award and The Maurice English Award. In 2003 she won the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize for lifetime achievement. Pastan lives with her husband in Potomac, Maryland. They have 3 children and 7 grandchildren.

Jeffrey Harrison2014 – Jeffrey Harrison

Jeffrey Harrison is the author of five books of poetry– including The Singing Underneath, selected by James Merrill for the National Poetry Series in 1987, Incomplete Knowledge (Four Way Books), which was a runner-up for the Poets’ Prize in 2008, and Into Daylight, published in 2014 by Tupelo Press as the winner of the Dorset Prize– as well as of The Names of Things: New and Selected Poems, published in 2006 by Waywiser Press in the U.K. A recipient of Guggenheim and NEA Fellowships, as well as other honors, he has published poems in The New Republic, The New Yorker, The Nation, Poetry, The Yale Review, The Hudson Review, American Poetry Review, The Paris Review, Poets of the New Century, The Twentieth Century in Poetry, and in many other magazines and anthologies. He has taught at George Washington University, Phillips Academy, where he was the Writer-in-Residence, College of the Holy Cross, Framingham State College, the Stonecoast MFA Program, and, during the summer, the Chautauqua Institute, the Wesleyan Writers’ Conference, and The Frost Place. For more information, go to:

2013 – Charles Harper Webb

Charles Harper Webb is an American poet, professor, psychotherapist and former singer and guitarist. His most recent poetry collection is Shadow Ball (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2009). His honors include a Whiting Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, The Kate Tufts Discovery Award, a Pushcart Prize and inclusion in The Best American Poetry 2006. His poems have appeared in literary journals and magazines including American Poetry Review, Paris Review, and Ploughshares. Webb was born in Philadelphia, and grew up in Houston. He earned his B.A. in English from Rice University, and an M.A. in English from the University of Washington, and an M.F.A. in Professional Writing and his PhD in Counseling Psychology from the University of Southern California. He teaches at California State University, Long Beach, where he received a Distinguished Faculty Scholarly and Creative Achievement Award and the Distinguished Faculty Teaching Award, and he lives in Long Beach, California.

2012 – Gray Jacobik

Gray Jacobik is a widely published American poet. A sought-after reader and mentor, she is an emeritus professor of literature, a literary critic and painter, and a deeply committed advocate for the literary arts. Her official website presents information about her books; links to poems, interviews, videos and audio files on-line; her performing, publishing and teaching history; and notice of upcoming readings and workshops.

Jeanne Marie Beaumont2011 – Jeanne Marie Beaumont

Jeanne Marie Beaumont grew up in the Philadelphia area and moved to New York City in 1983. She holds an MFA in Writing from Columbia University and is the author of three books of poetry. Her first, Placebo Effects, was selected by William Matthews as a winner in the National Poetry Series and published by W.W. Norton in 1997. Her second collection of poems, Curious Conduct, was published by BOA Editions, Ltd. in 2004, and her third collection, Burning of the Three Fires, also from BOA, was published in the fall of 2010. With Claudia Carlson, she co-edited the anthology The Poets’ Grimm: Twentieth Century Poems from Grimm Fairy Tales (Story Line Press, 2003).

Her poems have been included in two dozen anthologies and textbooks, among them Good Poems for Hard Times, Poetry Daily: 366 Poems from the World’s Most Popular Poetry Website, When She Named Fire: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry by American Women, The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror, 20th ed., The Norton Introduction to Literature, 9th ed., and Don’t Leave Hungry: 50 Years of Southern Poetry Review.Journals in which her work has appeared include Boston Review, Barrow Street, Conduit, Court Green, Denver Quarterly, Harper’s, Manhattan Review, The Nation, New American Writing, Poetry Northwest, andWorld Literature Today, among many others. She won the 2009 Dana Award for Poetry, and also The Greensboro Review literary award for poetry in 2003. From 1992 to 2000, she was co-editor of the literary magazine American Letters & Commentary.

A poem from Curious Conduct, “Afraid So,” was made into a short film of the same name by award-winning filmmaker Jay Rosenblatt; it has been screened at numerous international film festivals since 2006 and on IFC. She has studied bookbinding at the Center for Book Arts, where she curated readings for its Broadsides Reading Series. She previously taught at Rutgers University and at The Frost Place, where she served as director of the annual Advanced Poetry Seminar (2006-2010). She currently teaches at The Unterberg Poetry Center of the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan and in the Stonecoast MFA Program at the University of Southern Maine.

Info from Jeanne Marie Beaumont official site.  | Author photos by Bibiana Huang Matheis,

Dorothy Barresi2010 – Patricia Smith

Patricia Smith, who has been called “a testament to the power of words to change lives,” is the author of four books of poetry, most recently Teahouse of the Almighty, a 2005 National Poetry Series selection (Coffee House Press). Her poems have been published in The Paris Review and TriQuarterly, as well as many anthologies, including American Voices, The Spoken Word Revolution, and The Oxford Anthology of African-American Poetry. Smith also penned the critically acclaimed history Africans in America and the award-winning children’s book Janna and the Kings. A four-time individual champion on the National Poetry Slam, Smith has also been a featured poet on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam and has performed her work around the world. She has written and performed two one-woman plays, one of which was produced by Derek Walcott’s Trinidad Theater Workshop. She is a Cave Canem faculty member and has served as the Bruce McEver Chair in Writing at Georgia Tech University.

David St. John2009 – David St. John

David St. John is the author of nine collections of poetry, most recently The Face: A Novella in Verse, as well as a volume of essays, interviews and reviews entitled Where the Angels Come Toward Us. He has been honored, over the course of his career, with many of the most significant prizes for poets, including fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, both the Rome Fellowship and an Award in Literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, the O. B. Hardison Prize (a career award for teaching and poetic achievement) from The Folger Shakespeare Library, and a grant from the Ingram Merrill Foundation. He currently teaches at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, where he served as Director of The Ph. D. Program in Literature and Creative Writing.

Dorothy Barresi2008 – Dorothy Barresi

Dorothy Barresi is the author of three books of poetry, All of the Above (Beacon Press,1991), winner of the Barnard College New Women Poets Prize, The Post-Rapture Diner (Univ. of Pittsburgh Press,1996), winner of an American Book Award, and most recently, Rouge Pulp (Univ. of Pittsburgh Press, 2002). She is Professor of English and Creative Writing at California State University, Northridge.

Tony Hoagland2007 – Tony Hoagland

Tony Hoagland is the author of three volumes of poetry: Sweet Ruin, winner of the Brittingham Prize in Poetry, Donkey Gospel, winner of the James Laughlin Award of The Academy of American Poets, and What Narcissism Means to Me, as well as a collection of essay’s about poetry, Real Sofistakashun all by Graywolf Press. He is the winner of the 2005 O.B. Hardison Jr. Prize, and also received the 2005 Mark Twain Award, given by the Poetry Foundation in recognition of a poet’s contribution to humor in American poetry. He teaches in the graduate writing program of the University of Houston and in the Warren Wilson MFA program.

Dorianne Laux2006 – Dorianne Laux

Dorianne Laux is author of Awake, What We Carry, and Smoke (BOA Editions) and Facts About the Moon (W.W. Norton, 2005) as well as The Poet’s Companion: A Guide to the Pleasures of Writing Poetry (W.W. Norton, 1997). Winner of a 2001 Guggenheim Fellowship and a two-time recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in poetry, an Editor’s Choice III award, a Pushcart Prize, she was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the 2006 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize for the best book of poetry published in the United States the previous year. Her book Facts About the Moon won her the honor of the 2007 Oregon Book Award. Laux has been a fellow at BreadLoaf and contributing editor of Poetry Flash.

Virgil Suarez2005 – Virgil Suarez

Suarez is the author or co-author of over fifteen books of poetry and prose. His work has appeared in The Kenyon Review, The Southern Review, The New England Review, Poetry London, Poetry Wales, Poetry New Zealand, Imago (Australia), The Toronto Review (Canada), The Barcelona Review (Spain), Ploughshares, and many others nationally and internationally. He is professor of Creative Writing at Florida State University.