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Sleepaway: A Novel
Acre Books, 2024

Runner-up, The AWP James Alan McPherson Award for the Novel

A superbly original parable!  —Booklist

Haunting!  Foreword Reviews

A Taut and piercing dystopian tale! —Kirkus Review


Renowned poet Kevin Prufer has created a novel that will grip you from its opening and continue to resonate long after its haunting last line.  —Mat Johnson


Sleepaway Interview                                  

The Fears

Copper Canyon Press, 2023

2024 Rilke Prize.  [Judge's citation]

2024 Burdine Johnson Honor Award of the Texas Institute of Letters.

This evocative book is recommended for all libraries.

—Library Journal, Starred Review

Electrifying! Gothic yet grounded, The Fears stuns as it poses questions of mortality and value.  —The New England Review

                                                     [The Fears interview]     [more reviews]

The Art of Fiction: Poems
Four Way Books, 2021

As driven by storytelling as one’s favorite thriller ... approachable and edge-of-seat engaging.  —Barbara Hoffert, Editor's Pick, Library Journal


In his latest from Four Way Books, Prufer conveys images in motion, in flux, not transformed through his lens but spied in the process of change, a lens not after that of photography but of cinema.  —Christopher Notarnicola, The Paris Review

Here, terror is never far from the edges of consciousness . . . . Prufer’s sensitive, strange, and brilliant poems explore darkness and pain with originality and verve.   —Publishers Weekly

Phenomenal in both senses of the word!     —Tony Leuzzi, The Brooklyn Rail

I Had Wanted a Happier Ending

Sting & Honey Press Chapbook Series, 2021

For two decades, Kevin Prufer has numbered among the best poets in America, producing poems probingly civic-minded, narratively layered, psychologically complex, and surprisingly intimate. In I Had Wanted a Happier Ending, the chapbook form shifts how Prufer’s long, braided poems feel to the reader.    —Wayne Miller


Kevin Prufer has been creating original collages out of classical and contemporary narratives, including both human and animal lives, for many years. In these two gorgeous poems, he does this and more as he explores the liminal space between life and death. —Martha Collins

How He Loved Them

Four Way Books, 2018

• Long list, the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

• Winner, 2019 Julie Suk Award for the best book from the American literary press


• Finalist, the 2019 Rilke Prize for the best book by a mid-career American poet.

• Finalist, the 2019 INDIE Prize for best book from the American independent press.



Four Way Books, 2014

The New York Times, "10 Favorite Poetry Books of 2014"


A gothic extravaganza featuring alligators, avalanches and medical devices left inside bodies, delivered largely in long, musical free verse lines. Poetry at full boil, poured with deliberate abandon.  —David Orr, The New York Times

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In a Beautiful Country

Four Way Books, 2011

An American Poet/Academy of American Poets "Notable Book" for 2011
Finalist, The 2011 Rilke Prize
Finalist, The 2013 Poets' Prize

Pleiades editor-at-large Kevin Prufer nails our sense of loss in a nation numbed by mall sprawl and horror movies, even as the military builds up and up.  —Library Journal


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National Anthem

Four Way Books, 2008

One of Publishers Weekly's Five Best Poetry Books of 2008
Best book of the Year—Virginia Quarterly Review
Finalist, the 2010 Poets' Prize
A 2008 "Notable Book"—Poetry International


A rare poetry collection: as angry and ironic over the state of contemporary America—figured here as a great classical empire in decline—as it is funny and perversely pleasurable.  —Publishers Weekly


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Fallen From a Chariot

Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2005

Editors' Choice: Best Books of the Last 25 Years, The Bloomsbury Review
Finalist, Balcones Prize, 2006
William Rockhill Nelson Award, 2006


Invigorating talent.  —The Georgia Review

Prufer has taken the elegy and made it new.  —The Notre Dame Review

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The Finger Bone

Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2002

Re-issued as a Carnegie Mellon Contemporary Classic, 2012


Finalist for the James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets.
Winner of the William Rockhill Nelson Award.


The Finger Bone is a challenging and provocative book by an exciting young writer who speaks from — and to — the uncertainties of the contemporary world.... These poems need to be writ large on the American psyche. —The Georgia Review


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Strange Wood

Winthrop UP/LSU Press, 1998


Winner, The Lena-Miles Wever Todd Poetry Series


In poems remarkable for their unflinching wisdom, for a maturity of vision too rarely seen in a first book, Kevin Prufer reminds of of that space beyond lullaby, of the fragility of life in a world where "everything's // the chance for flying / failing somehow," and of loss as inevitable, hardest truth of all — how "the body blooms, unfolding, / then is gone." —Carl Phillips

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