Loyola University Chicago

Department of English


Congratulations to Aaron Baker!

Aaron Baker, Assistant Professor of English, is the winner of the 2017 Barry Spacks Poetry Prize for his new collection of poems, Posthumous Noon, published by Gunpowder Press. 

Jane Hirshfield, who judged the competition, wrote: 

"Posthumous Noon is a book of grief and its bearing. It is also a book of language’s largess and leaping—as all true poem-volumes must be—and a book of the treasure house of the living: of largemouth bass; of the eros of moths and of humans; of cities and fields, stories and waters. It is a book holding as well many kinds of migration: the migration of the body in illness, of love’s witness, of souls, of creatures, of aftermath. In word, music, and image, Aaron Baker confirms his book title’s promise: even amid loss’s darkness, the full dimensions of light cannot be kept from this world.” 

Aaron Baker’s first collection of poems, Mission Work (Houghton Mifflin, 2008), winner of a Katherine Bakeless Prize in Poetry, is based on his experiences as a child of missionaries living among the Kuman people in the remote Chimbu Highlands of Papua New Guinea. Judge Stanley Plumly wrote: “How rare to find precision and immersion so alive in the same poetry. Aaron Baker’s pressure on his language not only intensifies and elevates his memories of Papuan ‘mission work,’ it transforms it back into something very like his original childhood experience. Throughout this remarkably written and felt first book, the reader, like the author himself, ‘can’t tell if this is white or black magic,’ Christian, tribal, or both at once.” In 2009, Baker won the $2,500 Shenandoah/Glasgow Prize for a poet who has published only one book. Judge Alice Friman noted that Mission Work touches “the essential mystery that underlies all things.” 

Aaron Baker earned his B.A. from Central Washington University, and his M.F.A. from the University of Virginia. His honors and awards include a Stegner Fellowship, a Henry Hoyns Fellowship in Creative Writing, a Ludwig Vogelstein Literary Fellowship, and fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference.