Philip C. Bobbitt
The Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry
Established in 1988 by Professor Philip Bobbitt, his father, and the Library of Congress as the only national poetry award given by the United States.
About the Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry
The Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Poetry prize is awarded every other year for the best book of poetry published by a living United States author during the preceding two years or, at the discretion of the jury, for lifetime achievement. It was established in 1988 and is the only national poetry award given by the United States.
The $10,000 prize is given by the family of the late Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt of Austin, Texas, in her memory. She was the late President Lyndon B. Johnson's sister and, while a graduate student in Washington, D.C., during the 1930s, was an employee of the Library of Congress, where she met coworker and college student O. P. Bobbitt, whom she later married. Their son, Professor Philip C. Bobbitt, related, "After my mother's death, I discovered a cache of old index cards apparently used as surreptitious notes under the eyes of a superintendent who supposed perhaps that mother was typing Dewey decimals. The long campaign by which my father moved, successively, from conspiratorial coworker to confidante to suitor, was partly played out in the indexing department of the Library. Sometime after my mother's death, my father and I decided to endow a memorial in her honor and, owing to the history I have described, the Library of Congress was suggested as a possible recipient of this memoriam."
A four-person jury is made up of the Librarian of Congress, the Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry, a publisher appointed by the Academy of American Poets, and a literary critic appointed by the Bobbitt family.
Previous Bobbitt Prize winners
- Jorie Graham (2018)
- Claudia Rankine (2016)
- Nathaniel Mackey for Lifetime Achievement (2016)
- Patricia Smith (2014)
- Gerald Stern (2012)
- Lucia Perillo (2010)
- Bob Hicok and Charles Wright (2008)
- W.S. Merwin (2006)
- B. H. Fairchild (2004)
- Alice Fulton (2002)
- David Ferry (2000)
- Frank Bidart (1998)
- Kenneth Koch (1996)
- A.R. Ammons (1994)
- Louise Glick and Mark Strand (1992)
- James Merrill (1990)