Creative Writing Alum Jacob Saenz ’05 Wins American Poetry Review/Honickman First Book Prize

Photo courtesy: Jacob Saenz '05

Creative Writing alum and Library Acquisitions Assistant Jacob Saenz ’05 has been awarded the 2018 American Poetry Review/Honickman First Book Prize for his manuscript Throwing the Crown. This year’s guest judge, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Gregory Pardlo, selected Saenz’s manuscript from more than 800 submissions.

The annual American Poetry Review/Honickman First Book Prize in Poetry offers publication of a book of poems, a $3,000 award, and distribution by Copper Canyon Press through Consortium. According to The Honickman Foundation, the purpose of the prize is “to encourage excellence in poetry, and to provide a wide readership for a deserving first book of poems.”
According to Saenz, Throwing the Crown explores themes of boyhood, masculinity, race, gang life, family, and love. “Many poems in the book explore my time having to navigate gang-infested neighborhoods as a boy who looked the part but wasn’t a gangbanger,” says Saenz, who grew up in Cicero, Ill.
Saenz has been working on the book since 2011, when he was granted a Letras Latinas Residency at the Anderson Center for the Arts in Red Wing, Minn. Some of the poems in the book were first drafted when Saenz was a student enrolled as an undergraduate in the Poetry program at Columbia—the poem “Cops and Robbers” was first published in the Columbia Poetry Review in 2004.

Currently, Saenz serves as an associate editor of RHINO Poetry. His work can be found in Pinwheel, Poetry, TriQuarterly, and other journals. A CantoMundo fellow, he has been the recipient of a Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship through the Poetry Foundation.
Throwing the Crown will be published in September 2018.