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About

BOA Editions, Ltd.

BOA History:

Since its founding in 1976, BOA has published more than 300 books of American poetry, poetry-in-translation, and short fiction. The first publication bearing the BOA imprint was The Fuhrer Bunker: A Cycle of Poems in Progress by W. D. Snodgrass. The Fuhrer Bunker received tremendous critical attention and was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry, optioned for the stage by Joseph Papp, and produced by Wynn Handman for The American Place Theater. In 1984, BOA published Carolyn Kizer's Yin, a collection of poems that had been turned down by nearly every major publishing house. Yin won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1985. One year later, BOA published Rose by Li-Young Lee, who at that time was an unknown poet. He went on to publish five more books with BOA and is one of America’s most widely-read poets. Another extremely prominent BOA poet, Naomi Shihab Nye, joined BOA’s poetry list with her collection, Fuel, in 1994. She has gone on to publish 4 more lauded collections with BOA Editions, garnering such awards as the Neustadt International Prize for Literature, the Helen C. Smith Memorial Award for Best Book of Poetry from the Texas Institute of Letters, and the Writers' League of Texas Book Awards for Poetry, among many others.      

be loving ourselves/be sisters: Lucille Clifton Reminds Us that We are  American Poetry - Beltway Poetry Quarterly

Lucille Clifton is another prominent poet on BOA's roster. Ms. Clifton was awarded the 2010 Robert Frost Medal for lifetime achievement posthumously from the Poetry Society of America, and was the 2007 recipient of the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize from The Poetry Foundation. In 2000, she won the National Book Award for Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems 1988-2000. Two of her BOA poetry collections, Good Woman: Poems and a Memoir 1969-1980, and, Next: New Poems, were chosen as finalists for the Pulitzer Prize in 1988; she was the first author to have two books of poetry chosen as finalists for the Pulitzer Prize within the same year. The Terrible Stories was a finalist for the 1996 National Book Award. In 2012, BOA published The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton: 1965-2010, edited by Kevin Young and Michael Glaser with a foreword by Toni Morrison. The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton is the culmination of the revered poet's 40-year career, combining all of her published collections with 69 previously unpublished poems. In continuing to promote Ms. Clifton’s legacy for future generations, BOA published How to Carry Water: Selected Poems edited by Aracelis Girmay in 2020. Additionally, in 2020, BOA launched Blessing the Boats Selections, which are titles that spotlight poetry collections by women of color, selected by an Editor-at-Large who is also a woman of color. Blessing the Boats Selections was named after Lucille Clifton’s National Book Award-winning collection, Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems (BOA, 2000), in honor and celebration of her enduring legacy. In 2026 – BOA’s 50th anniversary – the press will publish a book of previously unpublished Lucille Clifton poems titled, At the Gate: Uncollected Poems 1987-2007, edited with a foreword by Kazim Ali.

In addition to the previously noted poets, BOA is proud to publish dozens of other poets and authors whose books have been awarded or named finalists for more than 100 awards by such organizations as the Academy of American Poets, Poetry Society of America, PEN Center, National Book Critics Circle, The Publishing Triangle, Great Lakes Colleges Association, and the Jewish Book Council. BOA books are also regularly reviewed in national newspapers, magazines, and literary journals. On a regional level, BOA publications have won the Northern California Book Award for Poetry Translation, Minnesota Book Award, Maine Literary Award Winner for Poetry, The Colorado Book Award for Poetry, Writers’ League of Texas Book Awards for Poetry, and the Israel Prize in Literature, among others.

In 2007, BOA expanded its American Reader Series to include collections of short fiction and in 2010 the BOA Short Fiction Prize was established. To-date, BOA has published more than 30 fiction collections, including 13 winners of the BOA Short Fiction Prize. These short story collections feature voices more concerned with the artfulness of their writing than the twists and turns of plot, and have gone on to bring new and important attention to this underserved literary genre.

 

As an organization, BOA was recipient of a 2001 New York State Governor's Arts Award for overall artistic excellence. In 2018, the Mayor of the City of Rochester issued a proclamation dedicating April 20th as BOA Editions Day in our hometown of Rochester, NY. Additionally, in 2005 and again in 2014, the University of Rochester’s Department of Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation (RBSCP) acquired BOA Editions’ publishing archives and created the BOA Collection. This collection corresponds to all of BOA’s activities and the writers and poets it publishes. A previous collection of BOA archives is located in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University where the collection was acquired in 1996 along with the papers of BOA’s founder, the late poet, editor, and translator A. Poulin, Jr. (1938-1996). That collection is titled A. Poulin papers and BOA Editions records.  

In honor of BOA’s founder, BOA established the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize in 2003. The Poulin Prize is awarded annually to a first collection of poetry. Poulin Prize winners are selected by a distinguished poet who also writes a foreword to the published collection. Previous Poulin Prize winners include Chen Chen, Keetje Kuipers, Geoffrey Davis, Janice N. Harrington, Marcelo Hernandez Castillo, Derrick Austin, Hugh Martin, and more than a dozen other noteworthy poets. With the generous support of the family of poet, actress, and associate editor of Poetry magazine, Isabella Gardner (1915-1981), BOA also biennially awards the Isabella Gardner Poetry Award to a poet in mid-career with a new book of exceptional merit. Previous Gardner Award winners include Naomi Shihab Nye, Bruce Weigl, Aracelis Girmay, and Jillian Weise, among others.

BOA currently operates under the guidance of Executive Director and Publisher Peter Conners. Conners joined BOA Editions as Marketing Director in 2003 and was named Publisher in 2010. The title of Executive Director was added in 2020. Under his editorial direction, BOA books have garnered dozens of prestigious awards including 3 James Laughlin Awards, the Whiting Award, the PEN Center USA Literary Award for Fiction, and the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize which is given by the Academy of American Poets in recognition of “the most outstanding book of poetry published in the United States in the previous calendar year.” He also spearheaded the founding of BOA’s fiction series, Blessing the Boats Selections, and, most recently, the BOA Audiobooks Series. Additionally, Conners is an author with 10 published books of poetry, nonfiction, and fiction. In 2022, the University of Rochester’s Department of Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation (RBSCP) acquired 30 years of Conners’ personal writing archives and founded the Peter Conners Literary Collection.

And we’re just getting started! These are some of the highlights from the BOA story so far, but, as we like to say, “the best is yet to come.” As a nonprofit organization, the next phase of our history will depend largely on tax-deductible donations by supporters like you. Publishing great poetry and literature as an independent, nonprofit press requires a community of avid supporters and readers. When you donate to BOA, you join that community of faithful supporters. In recognition of that crucial support, your name will be printed in the books you choose to support, and you’ll receive those books in advance of publication. If you believe in the work that BOA has done for nearly 50 years – and would like to see it continue for another 50 years – please visit our “Donate to BOA Editions” page and pledge your support.

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