Ishion Hutchinson nominated for prestigious poetry award - The National Library of Jamaica

Ishion Hutchinson nominated for prestigious poetry award

by | Mar 6, 2017 | 12 East Street, Literature and Poetry | 2 comments

Jamaican poet, Ishion Hutchinson has been nominated for the 2016 National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry. This nomination is for his second and latest collection, House of Lords and Commons; published last year by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Hutchinson is among five finalists who were announced on January 17, 2017.

The National Book Critics Circle was established in the United States in 1974 to honour outstanding writing and foster a national conversation about reading, criticism and literature. Past winners of the prize for poetry include Claudia Rankine (another exceptional Jamaican poet), Adrienne Rich, and Elizabeth Bishop. This year’s awards are to be presented on March 16, 2017 at The New School in New York.

‘Critical Mass’, the blog of the National Book Critics Circle, describes Hutchinson’s latest collection:

 “It is ragged and fiercely beautiful. Its double-edged language is inviting and unsettling… These poems are lighthouse beams that concentrate fervor and anger.”

Ishion Hutchinson was born in Port Antonio and attended Titchfield High School. After completing his BA in English at the University of the West Indies, Mona, he moved to the US in 2006 to pursue graduate studies at New York University and the University of Utah. His first collection of poetry, Far District, was published by Peepal Tree Press in 2010. The collection was awarded the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award for Poetry.

Hutchinson distinguished himself as a literary talent from his days as a student at UWI. In 2005, his chapbook, Bryan’s Bay, was published by the Calabash Writers Series. In a 2006 Gleaner article, Hutchinson, then preparing to travel to New York to begin his MFA at NYU, spoke about the often political nature of his work,

“I just feel that my life as a poet has to do with the public and engaging history and things that have gone before.”

Today, Hutchinson is an assistant professor of English at Cornell University and is the contributing editor of the literary journal, Tongue: A Journal of Writing and Art. He lives in Ithaca, New York.  Among his awards and honours are the 2013 Whiting Writers Award and the Academy of American Poets Larry Levis Prize.

Hutchinson has been featured in the From Our Poetry Books series – a collection of poems by Jamaican writers selected by the current Poet Laureate, Professor Mervyn Morris – published weekly in The Sunday Gleaner.

As we gear up to celebrate World Poetry Day on March 21, we share below a recording of his poem “Red X” from Far District read by the esteemed Professor Edward Baugh.



Batson-Savage, Tanya. “Ishion Hutchinson aims to master poetry.” The Sunday Gleaner, 14 May 2006, E2.

Taylor, Tess. “30 Books #3: Tess Taylor on Ishion Hutchinson’s ‘House of Lords and Commons’.”Critical Mass, 15 February 2017,