Elizabeth Alexander has won a number of awards, including two George Kent Prizes for Poetry (1992, 1997), the Illinois Arts Council Literary Award (1993), the Kenyon Review Prize for Literary Excellence (1994), and three Pushcart Prizes (1998, 2000, 2001). American Sublime was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and was named one of the American Library Association’s notable books of the year. Alexander won Connecticut Book Awards in poetry for American Sublime and Miss Crandall’s School for Young Ladies and Little Misses of Color in 2006 and 2008, respectively.
In 2007, Alexander was the inaugural recipient of both the Jackson Poetry Prize from Poets and Writers and the Alphonse Fletcher, Sr., Fellowship for her work in improving race relations in the United States. She has also received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. In 2009, she composed Praise Song for the Day and delivered it at the inauguration of President Barack Obama. That same year, she received the Stephen E. Henderson Award from the African American Literature and Culture Society.