Jorie Graham has won the 2018 Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry for her 2017 collection “Fast.”
The biennial award is presented by the Library of Congress and includes a $10,000 prize. The judges selected for this year’s panel included the poets Natalie Diaz, Catherine Barnett and Betty Sue Flowers. Ms. Graham will receive the prize during a reading at the library’s James Madison Memorial Building in Washington on Dec. 6.
The title of her book “describes the speed at which time leaps ahead and rewinds in this mortality-haunted, panic-inducing beauty of a collection as intellectual as it is felt,” the jury wrote in a statement.
Ms. Graham wrote the work while undergoing cancer treatment, and that experience comes across in the pages. (One of the poems is titled “From Inside the MRI.”)
In his review for The New York Times, Adam Fitzgerald called the collection an “autopsy of self and nation in the face of overwhelming loss.” He added: “‘Fast’ is a great book about the nature of social life in the 21st century, a book in which past and future unfold in ‘every cell’ across the vast space of a few words.”
Ms. Graham is the Boylston Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory at Harvard University. She received a MacArthur “genius” grant in 1990 and has since published several poetry collections, including “From the New World: Poems 1976-2014,” “Place” and “The Dream of the Unified Field: Selected Poems 1974-1994,” which won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1996.
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