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Freedom Plow Award for Poetry & Activism

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About the Award & Ceremony

The award, made possible through the generosity of the CrossCurrents Foundation, recognizes and honors a poet or poetry collective doing innovative and transformative work at the intersection of poetry and social change. Our hope is that the prize, like our biennial poetry festival, will become an essential, enduring part of our mission to promote the growing field of art and social activism on a national level. Also like the festival, the Freedom Plow Award is presented every other year.

Recipients receive $3,000, a beautifully designed award, and extensive attention to their work. We celebrate the selected recipient and finalists at a gala ceremony and reading.

The 2017 Freedom Plow Award

The 2017 Freedom Plow Award ceremony will be held at the Arts Club of Washington at 6 pm on the evening of April 21, 2017. This year's panel of judges include Holly Bass, Dawn Lundy Martin, and 2015 Freedom Plow Award Recipient Mark Nowak.

To learn more about the 2017 Freedom Plow Award recipient and finalists and to purchase tickets for the award gala ceremony, visit the 2017 Freedom Plow Award for Poetry & Activism web page.


Previous Recipients & Projects

Black and white image of Eliza Griswold. A white woman with a slight smile and slightly curled hair stands looking directly toward camera. She stands in front of a parking lot

The inaugural award was presented in 2013 to Eliza Griswold for her work gathering, translating, and publishing the folk poems of Afghan women, who  often write despite great risks to their personal safety. The inaugural ceremony also honored the four finalists: Jorge Agueta, poet and Director of Talleres de Poesia; Elana Bell, poet and educator with Seeds for Peace and Poets in Unexpected Places; Tim Z. Hernandez, poet and creator of "All They Will Call You"; Wang Ping, poet and Director of Kinship of Rivers. Photos and the video slideshow from the 2013 ceremony can be viewed at Blog This Rock, along with a write up on the evening.


Black and white photo of Mark Nowak, a white man with a beard and black slightly square shaped glasses looks toward camera.

The 2015 award was presented to Mark Nowak for his work fostering the voices of workers and bringing the stories and voices of workers to the center of poetry and public life. The three finalists, Black Poets Speak Out/Mahogany L. Browne, Jonterri Gadson, Amanda Johnston; John Lee Clark; and Bob Holman, were also celebrated with a multimedia presentation during the ceremony. Reflections on the ceremony, with photos and video, are also available on our blog.


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