Robin Walter's 'Little Mercy' receives poetry academy's First Book Award

NEW YORK — (AP) — Robin Walter’s “Little Mercy,” a debut collection of verse that celebrates the natural world, has won the 2024 Academy of American Poets’ First Book Award.

Walter will receive $5,000 and a six-week residency in Umbria, Italy. Her book will be published next year by Graywolf Press, an independent publisher whose authors have included Maggie Smith, Elizabeth Alexander and former U.S. poet laureate Tracy K. Smith. The academy itself plans to purchase thousands of copies and distribute them to members.

Walter's book was chosen by fellow poet Victoria Chang, who in a statement Wednesday called her work “melodious and wise.”

“The beautiful and meditative poems in ‘Little Mercy’ are painterly, showcasing a perceptive speaker with a keen eye," Chang wrote. “These poems quietly and gently ask us to look at all the natural beauty and cruelty (but mostly beauty) we face each day, every minute, every second of our strange time on this earth.”

The academy established the first book award in 1975, with previous winners including Jenny Xie, Alberto Rios and Sally Van Doren.