Jasmine Elizabeth Smith Awarded the Georgia Poetry Prize

Photot Credit: Michael Patrick Lentz

The University of Georgia Press is pleased to announce Jasmine Elizabeth Smith as winner of the 2020 Georgia Poetry Prize. In partnership with the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Georgia, the University of Georgia Press established the Georgia Poetry Prize in 2015 as a national competition that celebrates excellence in poetry.


The winner of the annual contest receives a cash award of $1,000, a publication contract with the University of Georgia Press, and invitations to read excerpts from the work at the two sponsoring institutions. The prize was established through the generous support of the Georgia and Bruce McEver Fund for the Arts and Environment at the University of Georgia Press. Smith’s collection South Flight will be published by the University of Georgia Press in February 2022.

Jasmine Elizabeth Smith (she/her) is a Black poet from Oklahoma. She received her MFA in Poetry from the University of California in Riverside. She is a Cave Canem Fellow and a recipient of the Glucks Art Fellowship.

Jasmine Elizabeth’s poetic work is invested in the Diaspora of Black Americans in various historical contexts and eras. It has been featured in Black Renaissance Noir, POETRY, and Terrain’s Letter to America Anthology among others. She was a finalist for the 2020 National Poetry Series and the 2019 Frontier Open Contest.

Jasmine Elizabeth is a Poetry Editor and a Poetry Program Specialist for the Black Lights Art Collective, a co-host of the radio show Baby Poet, and a teacher lead for Along the Chaparral: Remembering the Enshrined. She currently teaches Language Arts and creative writing in the Inland Empire of Southern California, and in rest, you’ll find her barehanded in her garden or trekking in nature.

“’Let the sounds I make / lamp pitch and lighten / ears.’ So begins the tale of history and wondrous music that is South Flight, a book-long sequence of poems that is as spellbinding in its narrative as it is beautiful in its lyric tilt and sweep. Jasmine Elizabeth Smith knows what a sense of place is, what history is, how much pain it inflicts–and how a well-told story can lift us up, despite everything. But perhaps even more important, here is a new poet who knows how to sing like no one else. And, by God, she sings like no one else! South Flight is a powerful, necessary book,” said this year’s judge, Ilya Kaminsky, author of Dancing in Odessa and Deaf Republic.

This year’s finalists are Rachel Abramowitz, of Santa Monica, California; Stacy Gnall, of Sparks, Nevada; Maggie Graber, of Oxford, Mississippi; Michael Mlekoday, of Davis, California; and Margaret Ray, of Lawrenceville, New Jersey.

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