It’s Thursday, which means we’re bringing you another episode of From the Catbird Seat, our new poetry podcast series!
In this third episode, we check in with the three jurors of the 2016 Rebekah Bobbitt Johnson National Prize for Poetry: Mary Szybist, appointed by Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden; Danielle Legros Georges, appointed by Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera; and Betty Sue Flowers, the long-time juror appointed by the Bobbitt family.
The Rebekah Bobbitt Johnson National Prize for Poetry was established at the Library of Congress in 1988, and has been awarded biennially since 1990. This $10,000 prize recognizes the most distinguished book of poetry written by an American poet and published during the preceding two years, or it recognizes the lifetime achievement of an American poet.
In early 2017, over the course of six weeks, the prize jurors convened over phone calls and e-mails to discuss the 130 books submitted for prize consideration. In the end, they emerged with two winners: Claudia Rankine for her book Citizen, and Nathaniel Mackey for lifetime achievement.
In a short interview with Mary Szybist, Danielle Legros Georges, and Betty Sue Flowers, we learn the process behind their decision to award the prize to both Claudia Rankine and Nathaniel Mackey. Then, we’ll listen to a segment of the prize reading with the winning poets themselves, which took place in the Library’s Mumford Room in April 2017.