The Yale Series of Younger Poets Competition is an annual event of Yale University Press aiming to publish the first collection of a promising American poet. The contest was founded in 1919, and is the oldest annual literary award in the United States.
Each year the Press publishes one book-length manuscript by an American poet under the age of forty who has not previously published a book of poetry. The winner receives royalties upon publication of the book. All poems must be original, and only one manuscript may be entered at a time.
The contest solidified its importance in American literature under the judgeship of Stephen Vincent Benet. Benet was judge from 1933 to 1942, followed by Archibald MacLeish from 1944 to 1946. Margaret Walker's For My People was the last volume selected by Benet. Auden assumed the judgeship after MacLeish. The contest is regarded by some to have been at its height from 1947 to 1959, when W. H. Auden was choosing the winners. His then-young poets included Adrienne Rich, James Wright, W. S. Merwin, John Ashbery, and John Hollander. The period was also notable for the two-time refusal of Sylvia Plath's manuscript Two Lovers, and Colossus which was subsequently published in England. The 1969â"1977 period, overseen by Stanley Kunitz, included volumes by Carolyn ForchÃ© and Robert Hass; Hass later became the Poet Laureate of the United States. The judgeship of W. S. Merwin, from 1998 to 2003, was fraught with controversy, as he refused to select a winner the first year that he was judge. Louise GlÃ¼ck, who is widely considered to have revived the prize's stature, judged the award from 2003 to 2010. Carl Phillips is the current judge.
This list is taken in part from The Yale Younger Poets Anthology (1998).
- American poetry
- List of poetry awards
- List of literature awards
- List of years in poetry
- List of years in literature
- Information on the competition from Yale University Press