Time for 2020 Bobbitt Prize Nominations!

The bust of Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt in the Library’s Poetry Office.

A word out to all poetry publishers: the Library of Congress is now accepting submissions for the 2020 Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize in Poetry. This biennial prize, which was first awarded 30 years ago to James Merrill, recognizes the most distinguished book of poetry written by an American and published during the preceding two years. Recent winners include Jorie Graham (2018), Nathaniel Mackey and Claudia Rankine (2016), and Patricia Smith (2014).

Note that:

  • Only publishers can submit, and only poetry books published in 2018 or 2019 are eligible
  • This year we are only accepting online submissions—a first for the prize and the office
  • The deadline for submissions is July 15

The three-person jury will review submissions and make their recommendations later in the summer, and the Librarian will announce the winner in early fall.

The prize is made possible by the family of the late Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt of Austin, Texas, in her memory. She was one of three sisters of President Lyndon B. Johnson. In the 1930s, Rebekah Johnson was a graduate student in Washington and worked at the Library of Congress, where she met co-worker O.P. Bobbitt, whom she later married.

Their son, Philip C. Bobbitt, once described how his parents used old index cards at the Library to pass notes to one another to further their romance. “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 memorial,” he said.

Rules for the 2020 Prize and the downloadable fillable entry form can be found here.

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