Paul Tran wins Poetry Foundation award

Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship among largest for young poets

Paul Tran. (Photo: Hieu Minh Nguyen)

Paul Tran, a Chancellor’s Graduate Fellow in The Writing Program in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, is one of five young poets awarded a $25,800 prize from the Poetry Foundation and Poetry magazine.

Announced Aug. 28, the Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowships are among the largest awards offered to young poets in the United States. The awards are intended to encourage the further study and writing of poetry and are open to all U.S. poets between 21 and 31 years of age.

Tran, who also serves as poetry editor for The Offing, has published work in Poetry, The New Yorker, Boston Review and the Norton anthology “Inheriting the War” (2017), among many others.

“I write to investigate what goodness looks like in the face of such evil,” Tran told the Poetry Foundation, “to determine, announce, and celebrate the sophistication, tenacity, audacity, and ferocity of goodness and altruism and love in our world.”

They are currently working on their first poetry collection, which examines intergenerational trauma, sexual violence and the U.S. empire after the Fall of Saigon in 1975.

In 2017, Tran became the first Asian American to win the Nuyorican Poets Cafe Grand Slam in more than two decades. Other honors include a 2018 “Discovery”/Boston Review Poetry Prize, top-10 showings at three consecutive National Poetry Slams, and placing at the Individual World Poetry Slam.

In addition to Tran, the 2018 poetry fellows include Safia Elhillo, Hieu Minh Nguyen, sam sax and Natalie Scenters-Zapico. Work by all five will be featured in the December issue of Poetry. Previous fellows include Washington University alumnus Phillip B. Williams, who received the award in 2013.

Tran performs at the Individual World Poetry Slam Finals in 2015. Full video here.


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