Walt Whitman Birthplace Association (WWBA) invites applications for the inaugural Gwenn A. Nusbaum / WWBA “Poets To Come” Scholarship Award. The $1500 scholarship is offered in the spirit of Walt Whitman’s poem of that title: "POETS to come! / Not to-day is to justify me and answer what I am for, / But you, a new brood… / Leaving it to you to prove and define it, / Expecting the main things from you.”
Deadline April 3, 2023      Finalist notified May 15, 2023      No fee   
Applications are sought from those poets at the beginning of their careers, ages 25-35 years. This scholarship, to be awarded every year, aims to encourage and assist an emerging poet in their creative poetry writing endeavors. Their emerging poetry career should be of exceptional artistic quality and societal import, and should demonstrate a passion for poetry, an awareness of the power of the poem, an originality of perspective and skillful use of expressive language. They will be expected to produce additional highly significant work during the scholarship timeline of one year, July 1, 2023 – July 1, 2024.
The application deadline is April 3, 2023. The winner will be notified by May 15, 2023. There is no application fee. An Award Ceremony is planned to be held at the Walt Whitman Birthplace State Historic Site between May 23 – June 28, 2023, date TBA. Due to Covid precautions, the Award Ceremony may be held as a virtual Zoom event, or a hybrid live stream program.
This scholarship is founded and made possible by the generous support of WWBA Trustee Gwenn A. Nusbaum, LCSW, and published poet. Support also comes from WWBA Trustees, Members and Donors. Gwenn Nusbaum states, “The scholarship program aims to draw interest to the Whitman legacy, the Whitman Birthplace and to encourage emerging poets of promising talent.”
The Award is administered by WWBA. The winner is selected by an independent and diverse panel of five (5) judges who may include, but are not limited to, poets, professors, scholars, writers and WWBA representatives. The panelists for 2023 include poets Victoria Chang, Juan Felipe Herrera, a third notable literary figure, and WWBA representatives Trustee Robert Savino and Executive Director Cynthia Shor. Trustee Gwenn A. Nusbaum is a non-voting panelist member. To learn more about the poet panelists Click Here. To learn more about WWBA panelists Click Here.
POETS to come! orators, singers, musicians to come!
Not to-day is to justify me and answer what I am for,
But you, a new brood, native, athletic, continental, greater than before known,
Arouse! for you must justify me.
I myself but write one or two indicative words for the future,
I but advance a moment only to wheel and hurry back in the darkness.
I am a man who, sauntering along without fully stopping, turns a casual look upon you and then averts his face,
Leaving it to you to prove and define it,
Expecting the main things from you.
- Walt Whitman
Applicant Guidelines:
Must be a US Citizen of 25-35 years of age.
Demonstrate a scholastic or pre-professional track of outstanding poetic writing; all poetic forms, styles, types, themes and topics are acceptable.
Submission Guidelines:
Online submissions only.
Submit one (1) PDF document containing items A, B, & C on Submittable form (below).
A. Cover Letter:
Please provide a cover letter with your name, date of birth, address, email, phone. Cover letter should include a statement of intent for professional writing goals. Cover letter should indicate expenditure plans for the scholarship funds. Please include contact information for one reference who will be emailed if the applicant moves to the finalist stage.
B. Resume/CV (no more than three pages).
Resume/CV should contain your education history, publication history, awards, performances and readings, and, if applicable, any past poetry projects.
C. Poetry samples (must be one (1) of the following three (3) options).
1. Ten (10) poems, OR
2. One (1) chapbook of poetry, OR
3. Use five (5) of your own poems to illustrate a narrative of your autobiographical statement
Please combine A, B, & C into one (1) PDF.
Honorarium of $1500 must be used within one (1) year of endowment (July 1, 2023 – July 1, 2024).
Funding to be used for supportive activities to further the writing career: for example, college tuition/fees (Undergraduate, Graduate, Doctoral, Post Doc); writing courses and workshops; writing conferences; writing retreats, and other approved activities.
WWBA Award Committee shall be supportive of the Honoree and will offer approval for intended use(s) of honorarium.
Honoree shall maintain contact with WWBA Award Committee.
Honoree shall demonstrate significant progress as described in a final report to the WWBA Award Committee. This may be a summary and/or short video of experiences toward growth, productivity and achievement of goals.
Award: Honoree receives a onetime scholarship of $1500.
WWBA offers Association support which may include use of the WWBA Archive & Library, consultations with Archive Curator, letters of introduction, and promotional articles and activities.
Honoree will be featured on WWBA website.
Honoree is invited to conclude their award year with a poetry reading at the Whitman Birthplace in person or via Zoom between the dates of May 23 – June 28, 2023.
Good luck to all.
Questions: Cynthia Shor, WWBA Executive Director, Director@waltwhitman.org

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