Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry

Vol. 31: Felling

Published: April, 2024  Pages: 80 

This collection is a record of one man’s navigation of loss, addiction, and labor. At once a meditation on the allure of a legacy in self-destruction and a giving over to hope, Felling is an exploration in honesty. Rendered in direct language and through clear eyes, this book, as its title indicates, is concerned with tensions of agency, creation, and destruction— upward and downward motion. more... about Felling

  • “Winner, Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry”

Vol. 28: Every Lash

Published: April, 2021  Pages: 92 

This collection’s title-as in tether, strike, eyelash, welt-is a nod to the fluidity of language and the foolish penchant we have for naming things, including ourselves. The poems refuse to navigate, choosing instead to face head-on the snares of gender, patriarchy, and parenting. In the closing environmental poems of farewell, the speaker regains communion with nature through the aging body. more... about Every Lash

  • Winner of the Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry, 2020

Vol. 27: Instructions for Seeing a Ghost

Published: April, 2020  Pages: 112 

Listen to an interview with author Steve Bellin-Oka on Big Blend Radio, discussing Instructions for Seeing a Ghost and his 2019 National Parks poetry residency. more... about Instructions for Seeing a Ghost

  • Winner of the Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry

Vol. 26: Dream Kitchen

Published: April, 2019  Pages: 98  Features: Poetry.

Owen McLeod’s extraordinary debut maps the contours of an ordinary life: the rise and fall of romantic love, the struggle against mental illness, and the unending quest for meaning and transcendence. Ranging from sonnets and sestinas to experimental forms, these poems are unified by their musicality, devotion to craft, and openness of heart. more... about Dream Kitchen

  • Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry

Vol. 25: The Goat Songs

Published: April, 2018  Pages: 82 

The poems in James Najarian’s debut collection are by turns tragic and mischievous, always with an exuberant attention to form. Najarian turns his caprine eye to the landscapes and history of Berks Country, Pennsylvania, and to the middle east of his extended Armenian family. These poems examine our bonds to the earth, to animals, to art and to desire. more... about The Goat Songs

  • Winner of the Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry, 2017

Vol. 24: Ornament

Published: April, 2017  Pages: 84 

In this debut collection, Anna Lena Phillips Bell explores the foothills of the Eastern U.S., and the old-time Appalachian tunes and Piedmont blues she was raised to love. With formal dexterity—in ballads and sonnets, Sapphics and amphibrachs—the poems in Ornament traverse the permeable boundary between the body and the natural world. more... about Ornament

  • Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry in Poetry 2016
  • North Carolina Poetry Society's Brockman-Campbell Book Award Honorable Mention

Vol. 23: Booker's Point

Published: April, 2016  Pages: 84 

Bernard A. Booker, wry old Maine codger and unofficial mayor of Ell Pond, is the subject of Booker’s Point, an oral history-inspired portrait-in-verse. Weaving storytelling, natural history, and the poetry of place, the collection evokes the sensibility of rural New England and the pleasures of a good story. more... about Booker's Point

  • Winner of the Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry 2015
  • Book Award for Poetry, Maine Literary Awards, 2017

Vol. 22: Other Psalms

Published: April, 2015  Pages: 84 

In his debut collection, Jordan Windholz recasts devotional poetics and traces the line between faith and its loss. Other Psalms gives voice to the skeptic who yet sings to the silence that “swells with the noise of listening.” If faith is necessary, this collection suggests, it is necessary as material for its own unmaking. Without a doubt, these are poems worth believing in, announcing, as they do, a new and necessary voice in American poetry. more... about Other Psalms

  • Winner of the Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry 2014

Vol. 21: In the Permanent Collection

Published: April, 2014  Pages: 80 

Trying to make sense of a disordered world, Stefanie Wortman’s debut collection examines works of art as varied as casts of antique sculpture, 19th-century novels, and even scenes from reality television to investigate the versions of order that they offer. These deft poems yield moments of surprising levity even as they mount a sharp critique of human folly. more... about In the Permanent Collection

  • Winner of the Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry, 2013

Vol. 20: Club Icarus

Published: April, 2013  Pages: 80 

With muscular language and visceral imagery, Club Icarus bears witness to the pain, the fear, and the flimsy mortality that births our humanity as well as the hope, humor, love, and joy that completes it. This book will appeal to sons and fathers, to parents and children, to those tired of poetry that makes no sense, to those who think lyric poetry is dead, to those who think the narrative poem is stale, to those who think that poetry has sealed itself off from the living world, and to those who appreciate the vernacular as the language of living and the act of living as something worth putting into language. more... about Club Icarus

  • Winner of the Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry 2012

Vol. 19: Death of a Ventriloquist

Published: April, 2012  Pages: 80 

This debut collection includes love songs and prayers, palinodes and pleas, short histories and tragic tales as well as a series of ventriloquist poems that track the epiphanies and consequences of speaking in a voice other than one’s own. Other poems speak to a Beloved and the highs and lows of parenthood and personhood—all with music and verve, with formal dexterity, with sadness and humor, with an intimate voice that can both whisper in our ears and grab us by the collar and implore us to listen. more... about Death of a Ventriloquist

  • Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry

Vol. 18: Circles Where the Head Should Be

Published: April, 2011  Pages: 80 

The poems in Circles Where the Head Should Be are full of objects and oddities, bits of news, epic catalogues, and a cast of characters hoping to make sense of it all. Underneath the often whimsical surface, however, lies a search for those connections we long for but so often miss, and a wish for art to bridge the gaps. more... about Circles Where the Head Should Be

  • Winner of the Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry, 2010

Vol. 17: Stray Home

Published: April, 2010  Pages: 72 

Listen to Garrison Keillor read two poems from Stray Home: “Our Friends in Minnesota” and “Arc,” for the May 2010 broadcast of The Writer’s Almanac! more... about Stray Home

  • Winner of the Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry, 2009
  • A "Must Read" Award from the Massachusetts Center for the Book, 2011

Vol. 16: Ohio Violence

Published: April, 2009  Pages: 80 

Ohio Violence starts with scandal: the narrator leads the high school football coach into the cornfields, but as she promises, “nothing happened.” In the fields, in the woods, in the dark water of Ohio, something is happening. Girls disappear, turn on each other. Men watch from the rearview as the narrator hedges, changes her mind, then shows all in this break-out collection of bittersweet and cataclysmic lyrics. more... about Ohio Violence

  • Winner of the Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry, 2008

Vol. 15: Mister Martini

Published: April, 2008  Pages: 80 

Spare yet evocative, the poems in Mister Martini pair explorations of a father-son relationship with haiku-like martini recipes. The martini becomes a daring metaphor for this relationship as it moves from the son’s childhood to the father’s death. Each poem is a strong drink in its own right, and together they form a potent narrative of alienation and love between a father and son struggling to communicate. more... about Mister Martini

  • Winner of the Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry, 2007

Vol. 14: The Next Settlement

Published: April, 2007  Pages: 64 

“Grief repairs grief,” Michael Robins writes in The Next Settlement, and in these meditative poems, voices map the world with precision as a way to mend the holes they find in it. Pristine natural landscapes provide a jarring counterpoint to troubled internal terrain. These enigmatic scenes are masterfully rendered with a photographer’s eye. more... about The Next Settlement

  • Winner of the Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry, 2006

Vol. 13: Re-Entry

Published: April, 2006  Pages: 80 

Michael White’s poetry is unusual for its loving patience in imagining how human predicaments feel. Using a striking variety of measures, his meditations attempt to re-enact the grain of consciousness as it plays out, from elegy to simple joy. more... about Re-Entry

  • Winner of the Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry, 2005

Vol. 12: The Black Beach

Published: April, 2005  Pages: 80 

The poems of The Black Beach describe everyday acts like putting children to bed, coaching Little League, and sending a daughter to school, but brood over what may be behind the everyday and how to reach it and talk to it. Faith ebbs and flows like the tide on a “black beach of heaven,” while these poems maintain skepticism, denying transcendence beyond what is available through love, the senses, and experience. more... about The Black Beach

  • Winner of the Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry, 2004

Vol. 11: Losing and Finding

Published: April, 2004  Pages: 80 

This collection of lyrical poems traces the narrative of the loss of love and intellectual powers and a groping towards a new life after a catastrophic illness. The poems describe suffering and the sudden loss of one’s prior life and powers, but they also celebrate the gifts that arise from the heart of suffering—the importance of the smallest things and the ability to pay fierce attention to them. “It might be a blessing,/ lying here, learning to see/ the light in these trees,” she writes. more... about Losing and Finding

  • Winner of the Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry, 2003

Vol. 10: Bene-Dictions

Published: April, 2003  Pages: 80 

In these dramatic poems, the agon pits ideas against the lurch and drift of bodies. Both are necessary, as the hand is necessary to write the poem, and both are reconciled here by a sensitivity to the pleasures of melodic form. more... about Bene-Dictions

  • Winner of the Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry, 2002

Vol. 9: The Self as Constellation

Published: April, 2002  Pages: 80 

The way we construct our selves—as the ancients created meaningful shapes from the random sparkles of the stars at night—is the theme and structural principle of this collection of poems. In writing them, Jeanine Hathaway assumed the constellations of Eldest Child, Ex-Nun, Former Wife, Single Mother, Writer, Teacher, and Pilgrim. Their most notable aspect is their exploration of spirituality, the awe and ambivalence that characterize every significant relationship, whether it be with God, family, friends, invented and historical figures, or oneself. more... about The Self as Constellation

  • Winner of the Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry, 2001

Vol. 8: The Perseids

Published: February, 2001  Pages: 72 

The Perseids is a book which insists that visual contemplation of the world is an act of the soul. These poems render the rich biological detail of landscape with passion and exactitude and describe the mind’s dazzling revelations during moments of shifting perspective and scale. more... about The Perseids

  • Winner of the Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry, 2000

Vol. 7: A Protocol for Touch

Published: February, 2000  Pages: Features: 80.

“Constance Merritt is a poet to defeat categories, to oppose ‘the tyranny of names’ with a poetry that sets its own terms of encounter, its ‘protocols of touch’—tender and austere, formal and intimate at once. Hers is a voice with many musics, sufficiently rich, nuanced and various to express, maintain poise and wrest meaning from the powerful cross-currents in which the heart is torn. I have seldom seen intelligence equal to such a scorching degree of intensity, or mastery of form so equal to passion’s contradictory occasions. Merritt’s prosodic range is prodigious—she moves in poetic forms as naturally as a body moves in its skin, even as her lines ring with the cadenced authority of a gifted and schooled ear. Here, in her words, the iambic ground bass is in its vital questioning mode: “The heart’s insistent undersong: how live?/how live? How live?” this poetry serves no lesser necessity than to ask that.” —Eleanor Wilner more... about A Protocol for Touch

  • Poetry Society of America William Carlos Williams Book Award, runner-up, 2001
  • Winner of the Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry, 1999


Published: March, 1999  Pages: 66  Features: 23 cm.

“Kathy Fagan’s long awaited second collection keeps revealing new strengths, new powers. Its words are of unsparing rigor; its intelligence and vision continually spring forward in changed ways. These are poems both revealing and resistant: deeply felt, deeply communicative, yet avoiding any easy lyricism. Again and again the reader pauses, astonished by some fresh turn of language, of insight, of terrain. MOVING & ST RAGE offers extraordinary pleasures, clarities, and depth.” —Jane Hirshfield more... about MOVING & ST RAGE

  • Winner of the Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry, 1998

Vol. 5: Soul Data

Published: March, 1998  Pages: 80 

“Soul Data is rarely compounded—of wit and music, surface elegance and intellectual depth, quirk and quandary. Its sensual intelligence is on high alert, and the sheer unsheerness of its language—all its densities and textures—is a linguiphiliacal delight. Unmistakeably American (the poetry’s occasions and its cadences alike serve for signature) it has the jinx-meister’s humors about it. There’s a dark streak, too, an eye for the natural indifferences that border the spotlit human heats. A fine rhetorical savvy, in a mind inclined to the chillier depths: among poetic gifts these days it’s an uncommon conjunction, a gift of mysteries, like the sight (across a night pond’s surface) of bright-blue shooting star: one hopes the other humans get to see it.” —Heather McHugh more... about Soul Data

  • Winner of the Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry, 1997

Vol. 4: American Crawl

Published: February, 1997  Pages: 80 

“…as exciting a first book as I have seen in years, and I feel privileged to have had a hand in presenting it to the world of letters. However complex and rich his dazzling collection may be thematically, its canny presentation of struggle and redemption will touch the least specialistic reader’s nerve… In a time of much inconsequential verse, a book of such singularity and originality, not to mention quality… is exciting and welcome. American Crawl is a work by which we can all set our moral and emotional—and yes, our intellectual compasses.” —Sydney Lea more... about American Crawl

  • Winner of the Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry, 1996

Vol. 3: The Sublime

Published: September, 1996  Pages: 80 

The twenty-nine poems in this, Holden’s seventh poetry collection, are mainly epistemological, balancing adult desire against adult knowledge, dramatizing with painful accuracy the inevitable dissonance. more... about The Sublime

  • Winner of the Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry, 1995

Vol. 2: Delirium

Published: November, 1995  Pages: 103 

“Barbara Hamby is an extraordinary discovery! A poet of compassion and elegance, she is a poet whose debut in Delirium promises a rich (and enriching) lifelong project.” —Cynthia Macdonald more... about Delirium

  • Claremont Graduate School Kate Tufts Award, 1996
  • Poetry Society of America Norma Farber First Book Award, 1995
  • Winner of the Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry, 1994

Vol. 1: Partial Eclipse

Published: October, 1994  Pages: 96 

“Sanders brings together his own sensibility (quizzical, approaching middle-age, slightly disaffected, bemused, learned but not stuffy) and an alertness to what can be appropriated from history, myth, the daily papers.” —Choice more... about Partial Eclipse

  • Winner of the Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry, 1993