My wife Patricia Smith has just been named the winner of the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize for her latest book, Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah. This is highest award an American poet can win short of, perhaps, the Pulitzer
“I can’t breathe,” Patricia said this morning. “Oxygen please.”
Me? Patricia has won so many honors that I’ve learned to take these things in stride. Every time she wins something — Pushcart prizes, the Rattle Poetry Prize, the National Poetry Series Award, the Phillis Wheatley Award, Yaddo and McDowell fellowships, and on it goes — I just figure, of course! That’s what’s supposed to happen when you’re a genius.
The Lenore Marshall prize, given by the Academy of American Poets, is in recognition of the most outstanding book of poetry published in the United States in the previous year. It will be officially presented to Patricia at a ceremony in New York City on Oct. 25.
Not bad for a poor kid from the west side of Chicago.