LSU Press established the L. E. Phillabaum Poetry Award to honor its director emeritus, Les Phillabaum, and his long commitment to poetry publishing. A cash prize will be awarded yearly to the author of a new poetry book selected by the Press.
Phillabaum joined LSU Press in 1970 as executive editor and associate director. He became director in 1975, a position he held until his retirement in 2003. During his years at LSU Press, Phillabaum was responsible for the publication of more than two hundred books of poetry by more than one hundred poets. Prize-winning books he acquired include Lisel Mueller’s The Need to Hold Still (1980), which won the National Book Award; and her new and selected volume, Alive Together (1997), which won the Press’s second Pulitzer Prize for poetry; and Henry Taylor’s The Flying Change (1985), also winner of the Pulitzer. Near the end of his time as director, LSU Press brought out two monumental poetry books—Jay Wright’s Transfigurations (2000) and John Burt’s definitive edition of The Collected Poems of Robert Penn Warren (1998)—fitting capstones to Phillabaum’s career in poetry publishing.