Color photograph of Rachel Trousdale. Photo by Nick Beauchamp
Rachel Trousdale (photo credit: Nick Beauchamp)

Announcing the winner of the inaugural Cardinal Poetry Prize

Wesleyan University Press is pleased to announce Five-Paragraph Essay on the Body-Mind Problem by Rachel Trousdale as the inaugural winner of the “Cardinal Poetry Prize.”

The manuscript was selected by guest judge Robert Pinsky from among fifteen finalists following an initial screening process of 428 manuscripts. The initial screening was conducted by coeditors John Murillo, poet and Associate Professor of English at Wesleyan University; Suzanna Tamminen, Director and Editor-in-Chief of Wesleyan University Press; and Oliver Egger, Assistant Editor at Wesleyan University Press.

Of the winning manuscript Pinsky said, “A rare gift in art is directness: to turn a clear, unsentimental gaze on love and grief in all their variations, with no smokey or mysterioso evasions. Almost as valuable is meaningful surprise, the stunned laughter of recognition even if the subject for marvel is loss. The heartfelt, unpredictable poems of Rachel Trousdale attain that kind of discovery.”

As the winner of the Cardinal Poetry Prize, which was open to poets aged 40 or older who have never published a poetry book or have not published a new original poetry collection within the last 10 years, Trousdale will receive a $1,000 cash prize and will have her manuscript published in the acclaimed Wesleyan University Press Poetry Series in the Spring of 2025.

Rachel Trousdale is a professor of English at Framingham State University. Her poems have appeared in The Nation, The Yale Review, Diagram, and other journals, as well as a chapbook, Antiphonal Fugue for Marx Brothers, Elephant, and Slide Trombone (Fishing Line Press, 2015). Her scholarly work includes Humor, Empathy, and Community in Twentieth-Century American Poetry (Oxford University Press, 2021) and Nabokov, Rushdie, and the Transnational Imagination (Macmillan, 2010). Five-Paragraph Essay on the Body-Mind Problem will be her first full-length collection of poetry.

Thank you to Robert Pinsky and to everyone who submitted to the prize. The Cardinal Poetry Prize is biennial and will run again in early 2026.

For more information about the Cardinal Poetry Prize and its inaugural winner, please contact Stephanie Elliott Prieto, Publicist and Web Manager, at [email protected].

The other 14 finalists were:

About the Prize

The Cardinal Poetry Prize was conceived by John Murillo, poet and Associate Professor of English at Wesleyan University, as a unique opportunity for serious poets who have taken their time and decided not to rush publication, for the studious, rigorous, midnight oil burning, patient ones who are finally satisfied that they have something worthy of readers. The winner will be selected by the guest judge following an initial screening process conducted by coeditors Murillo and Suzanna Tamminen (Director and Editor-in-Chief, Wesleyan University Press), and Oliver Egger (Editorial Assistant, Wesleyan University Press.)

About Robert Pinsky

Rectangular (veritical) photo of Robert Pinsky. Pinksy is a distinguished older gentleman. He wears a black shirt and jacket. (Photograph Courtesy of Eric Antoniou)
Robert Pinksy (photo credit: Eric Antoniou)

Robert Pinsky grew up in Long Branch, NJ, an historic seashore resort described in his recent autobiography Jersey Breaks. His most recent book of poetry is At the Foundling Hospital, with a new book of poems, Proverbs of Limbo, appearing next year. His PoemJazz album of the same title— Proverbs of Limbo— with musicians including Laurence Hobgood and Mino Cinélu, is available on Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music.

Other works include the best-selling translation The Inferno of Dante and The Life of David, on the Biblical figure. Previous books of poetry include his Selected Poems and Gulf Music

His honors include the Korean Manhae Award, the Italian Premio Capri and the Harold Washington Award of the City of Chicago. He has honorary degrees from institutions including Stanford University, The New School, and the University of Michigan.

Robert Pinsky’s first two terms as United States Poet Laureate met such enthusiastic national response that he was appointed to an unprecedented third term. As Laureate, Pinsky founded the Favorite Poem Project, in which thousands of American readers, of varying backgrounds, ages, and regions, read their favorite poems. The videos at show that poetry has a vigorous presence in American culture. 

Pinsky is a William Fairfield Warren Distinguished Professor at Boston University. He is the only member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters to have appeared on The Colbert Report and The Simpsons.