Awards & Prizes

Allison Adair Wins the Third Annual Max Ritvo Poetry Prize

Milkweed Staff — 11/05/2019

Milkweed Editions, in partnership with Riva Ariella Ritvo-Slifka and the Alan B. Slifka Foundation, is pleased to announce that Allison Adair is the winner of the third annual Max Ritvo Poetry Prize. For her manuscript The Clearing, chosen by acclaimed poet and judge Henri Cole, Adair will receive $10,000 and publication by Milkweed Editions in June 2020.

About the collection, Cole says:

The Clearing is a lush, lyrical book about a world where women are meant to carry things to safety and men leave decisively. Out of dry farming soil come these wise, mineral-like poems about young motherhood, mining disasters, miscarriages, memory, and much more. Allison Adair’s poems are haunting and dirt caked, but there is also a tense beauty everywhere. I found The Clearing devastating.”

Originally from central Pennsylvania, Allison Adair now lives in Boston, where she teaches at Boston College and GrubStreet. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in American Poetry Review, Arts & Letters, Best American Poetry, Best New Poets, Kenyon Review Online, North American Review, and ZYZZYVA, among other journals. Adair is the recipient of the Pushcart Prize, the Florida Review Editors’ Award, the Orlando Prize, and first place in Mid-American Review’s Fineline Competition. She holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Learn more about Allison Adair, and sign up to receive alerts about The Clearing »

“There is nothing like a competition for a first-book prize to confirm our sense of the richness and liveliness of American poetry today,” says Milkweed Editions Publisher & CEO Daniel Slager. “Many thanks to our judge, Henri Cole, and to the first readers whose commitment and industriousness made it possible. We are profoundly grateful, as well, to Ariella Ritvo-Slifka and the Alan B. Slifka Foundation, for making this initiative possible. Most importantly: Hearty congratulations to Allison Adair for winning the third annual Max Ritvo Poetry Prize! We are very excited to publish The Clearing in 2020.”




The Max Ritvo Poetry Prize was established to honor the legacy of one of the most original and accomplished poets to debut in recent years, and to reward outstanding emerging poets for years to come. Each year, the winning poet will receive publication by Milkweed and a purse of $10,000, making the Max Ritvo Poetry Prize the most lucrative first-book prize in the nation. The next submission period will be April 1 to May 30, 2020, with additional details to be released in the coming months. Learn more about the Max Ritvo Poetry Prize here »



Henri Cole was born in Fukuoka, Japan. He has published nine collections of poetry, including Middle Earth, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. He has received many awards for his work, including the Jackson Prize, the Kingsley Tufts Award, the Rome Prize, the Berlin Prize, the Lenore Marshall Award, and the Medal in Poetry from the Academy of Arts and Letters. His most recent collection is Nothing to Declare. A memoir, Orphic Paris, was recently published by New York Review Books. He teaches at Claremont McKenna College and lives in Boston.