John C. Zacharis First Book Award

Since 1991, the John C. Zacharis First Book Award has honored the best first book published by an author who has already published work in Ploughshares. The $1,500 award, which is named after Emerson College’s former president, is judged by our editors. The announcement of the award, along with a short profile of the author, is printed in each year’s Winter issue.

This award is not open for the submission of manuscripts, nor does it include publication of the winning book. Only first full-length books of poetry or fiction released by a publisher are eligible.

Genres alternate annually, with the poetry award given in even years and the fiction in odd years.

If you are the publisher or author of a Zacharis-eligible book, please send two copies to our office prior to the June 30 deadline (see below). Copies sent well in advance of this date are greatly appreciated. If you are sending copies for consideration, please notify us of the fact in a letter accompanying the copies. Mail copies to:

Attn: Zacharis Award
Emerson College
120 Boylston Street
Boston, MA 02116

Upcoming Awards

2024: Prose, for books published July 1, 2022 – June 30, 2024


2023: Claire Luchette, Agatha of Little Neon, (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2021)

2022: Lara Egger, How to Love Everyone and Almost Get Away with It (University of Massachusetts Press, 2021)

2021: Jamil Jan Kochai, 99 Nights in Logar (Viking, 2019)

2020: Jill Osier, The Solace Is Not the Lullaby (Yale University Press, 2020)

2019: Xuan Juliana Wang, Home Remedies (Hogarth, 2019)

2018: Kaveh Akbar, Calling a Wolf a Wolf (Alice James Books, 2017)

2017: Weike Wang, Chemistry (Knopf, 2017)

2016: Danez Smith, [insert] boy (YesYes Books, 2014)

2015: Carole Burns, The Missing Woman and Other Stories (Parthian, 2015)

2014: Roger Reeves, King Me (Copper Canyon, 2013)

2013: Lysley Tenorio, Monstress (Ecco, 2012)

2012: Heidy Steidlmayer, Fowling Piece (Triquarterly Books, 2011)

2011: Christine Sneed, Portraits of a Few People I’ve Made Cry (Univ. of Massachusetts Press, 2010)

2010: Julia Story, Post Moxie: Poems (Sarabonde Books, 2010)

2009: Paul Yoon, Once the Shore: Stories (Sarabonde Books, 2009)

2008: Susan Hutton, On the Vanishing of Large Creatures (Carnegie-Mellon, 2007)

2007: Ander Monson, Other Electricities (Sarabonde Books, 2005)

2006: Thomas Sayers Ellis, The Maverick Room (Graywolf, 2005)

2005: Richard McCann, Mother of Sorrows (Pantheon, 2005)

2004: Mark Turpin, Hammer (Sarabonde Books, 2003)

2003: Mailie Meloy, Half in Love (Scribner, 2002)

2002: Doreen Gildroy, The Little Field of the Self (Univ. of Chicago, 2002)

2001: Aleksandar Hemon, The Question of Bruno (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 2000; Vintage, 2001)

2000: Dana Levin, In the Surgical Theatre (APR)

1999: Elizabeth Gilbert, Pilgrims (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1997; Mariner, 1998)

1998: David Gewanter, In the Belly (Univ. of Chicago Press, 1997)

1997: Carolyn Ferrell, Don’t Erase Me (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1997)

1996: Kevin Young, Most Way Home (William Morrow, 1996)

1995: Debra Spark, Coconuts for the Saint (Avon Books, 1996)

1994: Tony Hoagland, Sweet Ruin (Univ. of Wisconson Press, 1992)

1993: Jessica Treadway, Absent Without Leave and Other Stories (Delphinium Books, 1994)

1992: Allison Joseph, What Keeps Us Here (Ampersand Press, 1991)

1991: David Wong Louie, Pangs of Love (Knopf, 1991)