Gwenn A. Nusbaum / WWBA “Poets To Come” Award

Walt Whitman Birthplace Association (WWBA) invites applications for the annual 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.”

Open Date – Jan. 1, 2023 | 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 in June 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 includes 3 notable judges including Victoria Chang, Juan Felipe Herrera, 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.

Our 2022 Recipient

The Gwenn A. Nusbaum / WWBA Poets To Come Scholarship Committee has selected Hua Xi (they/she) as the 2022 Scholarship recipient.

During the scholarship year, Hua plans to publish a first chapbook of poetry and finish a first poetry book manuscript.  Hua is interested in the mind and its internal languages, and writes about ways “we internally process the pain of the world.  The interior world can be as vast as the actual one, a place where things happen both forwards and backwards, simultaneously and years apart, where everything is true but nothing is real.”

Hua began major poetry publication in 2018 and has received writing awards from Yale Writing Center Essay Contest and Boston Review Poetry Contest, among other awards, with essays published in the Harvard Review and the Wall Street Journal. Hua is a first-generation immigrant and has served as a family caretaker. Hua received a BA in Media Studies from Yale University, and is currently teaching art at the Parsons School of Design at The New School.


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


Click any tab below to learn more about the scholarship 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.

Online submissions only.

Submit one (1) PDF document containing items A, B, & C on Submittable: Click Here

A. Cover Letter:

Please provide a cover letter with your name, address, email, phone and age. 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 (which includes one (1) of the three (3) options below).

1. Ten (10) poems, OR
2. One (1) chapbook of poetry, OR

3. 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, or 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.

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 during the month of June 2024.

Good luck to all.

Please review the submission guidelines above. When you are ready, click the button below to submit:

Poet panelists

Gwenn A. Nusbaum earned her B.A. in Psychology from Hofstra University and Master of Social Work from New York University, as well as numerous post-graduate certifications in psychotherapy and psychoanalysis, group psychotherapy, eating disorders, addictions, trauma, and recovery. Spanning over 35 years, Gwenn maintained a psychoanalytic private practice in the East Village of Manhattan, from which she recently retired, as well as taught and published in the field of her specialty work with women having histories of childhood sexual traumas. In 2020, Gwenn added WordPaint Coaching & Mentoring services to extend her reach via virtual sessions, to creators and those more isolated in their workspaces. Now she exclusively provides creativity and life coaching, as well as mentoring to anyone wishing to develop their personal and creative lives, as well as projects. Since her youth, poetry has been a mainstay of Gwenn’s life. Her long-term mentorship with the late poet and memoirist, Colette Inez, provided an invaluable opportunity for her to develop as a poet, as does continued engagement with crafts-building workshops. Gwenn’s poems have received a Pushcart Nomination and Honorary Mention. They appear in several on-line and print literary journals including Brief Wilderness, Cumberland River Review, Diverse Voices Quarterly, Edison Literary Review, Evening Street Review, Passager, Pink Panther Magazine, Psychoanalytic Perspectives, Rattle, Salamander, Schuylkill Valley Journal, Verse Virtual, and Voices de la Luna. She is also the author of the poetry chapbook, “Normal War.” Gwenn is deeply honored to support the “Poets to Come” Scholarship Award as well as delighted to be on the WWBA Board of Trustees, resonating with Walt Whitman’s humanistic values and reverence for the natural world.

Robert Savino (born April 24, 1948, Jamaica, NY) is a native Long Island poet, Suffolk County Poet Laureate 2015–2017, Board Member at the Walt Whitman Birthplace and at the Long Island Poetry & Literature Repository Center. He is the winner of the 2008 Oberon Poetry Prize, Association of Italian American Educators – Cristoforo Colombo Award for Literary Leadership (2019), and Town of Islip Italian American Heritage Award for Visual & Performing Arts – in Literature (2019). Robert was first inspired by Blake and Whitman in the sixties when everything became not as ordinary as it appeared and he began a life sentence in a metaphoric mind.

His poetry has been widely published in journals, anthologies, and online, including The Haight Ashbury Literary JournalLong Island QuarterlyMobius, Negative CapabilityThe North American Review and Sport Literate; and his poems have been written for art and music. One of the poems, “October’s Opal,” was composed by Yung Shen Hsaio as a four-instrument musical ensemble piece and presented at the 2017 International Rostrum of Composers and Conservatorio Vincenzo Bellini, Palermo, Italy.

Robert is co-editor of two bilingual collections of Italian Americans Poets, No Distance Between Us – Italian American Poets of Long Island and No Distance Between Us – The Next Collection – Italian American Poets of New York State. His books include Fireballs of an Illuminated ScarecrowInside a Turtle Shell and I’m Not the Only One Here. No Distance Between Us (Nessuna Distanza Tra Noi) is scheduled to become a trilogy of Italian American poetry in a cultural tribute to Dante Aligheri. Inside a Turtle Shell, a diverse journey of paths crossed, lost and found, was selected as the second collection in the three-volume Turtle Island Series (Allbook Books).

Robert lives in West Islip, NY, with his wife and enjoys the role of poetry mentor.

Cynthia Shor became the Executive Director of the Walt Whitman Birthplace Association (WWBA) in April 2006. Prior to this, Ms. Shor was a WWBA Board Member for three years, she was associated with the Association for more than a decade prior to that as a poetry teacher, program committee member and head judge for the organization’s annual poetry contest, which receives more than 2,500 entries each year. A published poet, Ms. Shor was a Poet in Residence at New York City’s Teachers & Writers Collaborative from 1985–1995, and taught poetry writing in over 40 elementary and high schools throughout the NYC and Long Island region.

In her role as WWBA Executive Director, Ms. Shor is responsible for the day-to-day management of all Association activities including the Education, Literary, and Historic Programming. She supervises the Museum Studies Internship programs for approximately 15 college students per year. Ms. Shor was responsible for the 2014 designation of the Whitman Birthplace as a “Literary Landmark” by United for Libraries for their Literary Landmarks Register. Shor has facilitated the acquisition of two major Whitman book collections which has enlarged the Association’s Whitman library to become the second largest private Whitman collection, second to the Library of Congress.

Ms. Shor received a B. A. in English from New York University and an M. A. in Literature from American University, Washington, DC. She studied in the NYU English Education Doctoral Program from 1994–2000 and achieved PhD Candidacy in 2001. She was an NYU Teaching Fellow from 1995–1997 and was a recipient of the NYU Steinhardt School of Education “Teaching Excellence Award” in 2005–2006. She is a member of Kappa Delta Pi, the educational honor society. During her first year at NYU, she studied at Oxford, and then she taught graduate and undergraduate courses in English Education at the Steinhardt School of Education at New York University from 1995–2007. She also taught memoir, poetry writing, and literature courses in the Great Neck Adult Education Program from 1995–2007, and her course, “The Interpretation of Literature” was selected as the “David Rauch Memorial Seminar” award for 2005 by the Great Neck Education Program.

She is an active Alumna of NYU and is currently Vice-President Emeritus of the NYU College of Arts & Science Alumni Association. She has done volunteer literacy tutoring, and as a writing coach she has facilitated the writing process and publication of articles, memoirs, and books for her clients. Ms. Shor resides in Glen Cove, Long Island with her husband, David Church, PhD.