Forest Primeval: Poems, by Vievee Francis, published by TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern University Press, was named the winner of the prestigious 2017 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. Francis will accept the award in a ceremony on April 20 in Los Angeles. It comes with a purse of $100,000, one of the largest prizes in the poetry world.
Unlike many literary awards, which honor a successful career retrospectively, the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award is given at mid-career, which both rewards a specific work and provides financial resources that allow poets the freedom to continuing honing their craft. Past winners have included Ross Gay, Angie Estes, Marianne Boruch, Rodney Jones, and Yusef Komunyakaa
Forest Primeval is Francis’s third collection of poems. In the words of judges’ committee chair Don Share, Forest Primeval is “an intense work, dark … Dantean … dreamlike in its visions.” Share, editor of POETRY magazine, describes Francis’s work as “reclaiming modernist and feminist legacies of poetry, and it takes great courage to do that. We can't wait to see where this leads her.”
Forest Primeval also won the 2016 Hurston/Wright Award and was a shortlist finalist for the PEN Open Book Award of 2016. A previous collection by Francis, Horse in the Dark, and also published by TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern University Press, won the Caven Canem Northwestern University Press Poetry Prize. Francis is a native of East Texas and is an associate professor of English and Creative writing at Dartmouth College. Other finalists for the prize were Tyehimba Jess’s Olio, Ada Limon’s Bright Dead Things, Jamaal May’s The Big Book of Exit Strategies, and Patrick Rosal’s Brooklyn Antediluvian.