Every year, the University of Arkansas Press accepts submissions for the Miller Williams Poetry Series and from the books selected awards the $5,000 Miller Williams Poetry Prize in the following summer. In February 2020, acclaimed poet Patricia Smith was named editor of the Miller Williams Poetry Series. She will select the winner and finalists of the 2022 Prize.
For almost a quarter century the press has made this series the cornerstone of its work as a publisher of some of the country’s best new poetry. The series and prize are named for and operated to honor the cofounder and longtime director of the press, Miller Williams.
“I love poems that vivify and disturb,” says series editor Patrica Smith. “No matter what genre we write in, we’re all essentially storytellers — but it’s poets who toil most industriously, telling huge unwieldy stories within tight and gorgeously controlled confines, stories that are structurally and sonically adventurous, and it’s magic every time it happens. Simply put, when I read a poetry book, I want something to shift in my chest. I want my world to change.”
Smith, with the help of screeners, will award to three authors publication in the series. This is the most significant award the press can offer: the opportunity for the author’s work to be published with all the dedication and expertise we have to offer. We provide professional copyediting by expert poetry editors, design and production by veteran designers who specialize in the typesetting of verse, and production managed by a house with a history of printing first-rate books. We believe this offers the poet the best possible opportunity to connect with his or her audience in print. This prize goes to all three books selected for the series. Three of the books are announced as finalists for the Miller Williams Poetry Prize. One is further chosen as the winner of the prize and receives $5,000 in cash in addition to publication.
Smith is the author of seven books of poetry and the winner of the NAACP Image Award, the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, a two-time Pushcart Prize winner, a four-time National Poetry Slam champion, and a 2014 Guggenheim fellow, among other honors. Her most recent book is Incendiary Art, published by Northwestern University Press in 2017.