Announcing The 2022 X. J. Kennedy Poetry Prize Winner


Ghost :: Seeds, by Sebastian Merrill

TRP is excited to announce that our final judge Kimiko Hahn has selected Ghost :: Seeds, by Sebastian Merrill as the winner of The 2022 X. J. Kennedy Poetry Prize!

Sebastian Merrill is a young, white man with long, wavy hair swept over one shoulder. In a septum piercing, he wears a small, silver hoop, and well-trimmed facial hair shadows his lip, chin, and lower cheeks.

Sebastian Merrill’s poetry has appeared in or is forthcoming from wildness, Passages North, The Columbia Review, The Cortland Review, Birdcoat Quarterly, LEON Literary Review, Broadsided Press, and NonBinary Review. He served as a reader for The Paris Review from 2019-2021 and was a staff-scholar for the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference in 2022. He has received support from Friends of Writers, the Juniper Summer Writing Institute, and the Academy of American Poets. He holds an MFA in Poetry from Warren Wilson College.

Ghost :: Seeds will be available Fall 2023.


The judge also recognized Upon Inheriting the Opium Dream, by Vlai Ly as this year’s runner-up.


This year’s finalists (in alphabetical order) were:

  • Dan Albergotti – Candy
  • Christopher Bakken – Theology at Black Earth Creek
  • Xochiquetzal Candelaria –As the Mother
  • Curtis L. Crisler – Doing Drive-Bys on How to Love in the Midwest
  • Saba Keramati – Self-Mythology
  • Nicholas J. Molbert – Altars of Spine & Fraction
  • Felicia Zamora – Interstitial Archaeology

Congratulations to our winner, runner-up, finalists, and all who participated in this year’s contest!


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