February 5, 2020

Announcing This Year’s Kingsley & Kate Tufts Poetry Award Finalists

"It’s been a good year for poetry," said Judging Committee Chair Timothy Donnelly, "and there were many, many titles we felt strongly about."

Claremont Graduate University (CGU) is proud to announce the selection of the ten finalists for the 2020 Kingsley and Kate Tufts Poetry Awards. One of the world’s leading annual poetry awards, the Kingsley Tufts Award provides the recipient with $100,000; the Kate Tufts Discovery Award provides the recipient with $10,000.

This year’s five finalists in each category were chosen from a pool of several hundred nominations submitted by individuals and by publishers.

“We’re very excited about this year’s finalists,” said Timothy Donnelly, chair of the Tufts Finalist Judging Committee and 2012 recipient of the Kingsley Tufts Award for The Cloud Corporation. “In both categories there are brilliant writers finding in poetry a means to grapple with the past as well as to wrestle with the challenges of our present.”

The winners will be announced later this month; an awards ceremony and public reading in April will be held on the CGU campus.

  • 2020 Kate Tufts Discovery Award Finalists

The Kate Tufts Discovery Award was established to honor a first book by a poet of promise. This year’s finalists are:

Tiana Clark, I Can’t Talk About the Trees Without the Blood

Ángel García, Teeth Never Sleep

Valencia Robin, Ridiculous Light

Ashley Toliver, Spectra

Emily Jungmin Yoon, A Cruelty Special to Our Species


  • 2020 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award Finalists

The Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award celebrates a book by a poet in mid-career. This year’s finalists are:

Monica Ferrell, You Darling Thing

Ilya Kaminsky, Deaf Republic

Ariana Reines, A Sand Book

Natalie Scenters-Zapico, Lima :: Limón

Brian Teare, Doomstead Days

“There are some dazzling innovators here,” Donnelly said, “while others are committed to reinvigorating tried-and-true poetic stances and modes, extending their relevance into the current century. Some, or even most, manage to do both. If there’s anything these titles all have in common, it is, ironically, their distinctiveness—none of these books is mistakable for another. Each has a clear, determined voice and vision.”

This year’s pool of submissions was particularly strong, he added.

“It’s been a good year for poetry and there were many, many titles we felt strongly about,” he explained, “but these are the books the committee kept circling back to, each for its own set of reasons.”

2020 Judging Committee Chair Timothy Donnelly

Donnelly is joined on this year’s Tufts judging committee by fellow poets Meghan O’Rourke, Khadijah Queen, Luis Rodriguez, and Sandy Solomon.

One of the world’s most prestigious poetry awards, the Kingsley Tufts Award was started at CGU in 1993 by Kate Tufts to honor her late husband, Kingsley, who held various executive positions in L.A.-area shipyards and wrote and published poetry. It was followed a year later by the establishing of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award.

Past Kingsley Tufts Award recipients include Patricia Smith, Vievee Francis, Angie Estes, Afaa Michael Weaver, D.A. Powell, B.H. Fairchild, Thomas Lux, Henri Cole, and Linda Gregerson; past recipients of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award include Yona Harvey, Charles Harper Webb, and Lucia Perillo.

Read more about the Kingsley & Kate Tufts Poetry Awards at CGU