Natalie Graham, assistant professor of African American studies at California State University, Fullerton, has been selected as the winner of the 2016 Cave Canem Poetry Prize from the Brooklyn, New York-based Cave Canem Foundation. The nonprofit organization was founded by Toi Derricotte and Cornelius Eady in 1996 to remedy the underrepresentation and isolation of African American poets in the literary landscape.
Dr. Graham will receive a cash prize and have her manuscript – Begin With a Failed Body – published by the University of Georgia Press in the fall of 2017. She joined the faculty at California State University, Fullerton in 2013.
In describing her award-winning poetry collection, Dr. Graham said “the collection contains poems that are often dark — reimagining iconic religious, literary, and historical figures. They imagine a haunted Southern landscape where history is inescapable. When they speak of nation, religion or family, they often ruminate on the individual body’s frailty in the face of these larger, sturdier structures.”
Dr. Graham holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing from the University of Florida and a Ph.D. in American studies from Michigan State University.
Claudia Rankine, the Henry G. Lee Professor of English at Pomona College in Claremont, California, won the National Book Critics Circle Award in poetry for her book Citizen: An American Lyric (Graywolf Press, 2014).
Rankine’s poetry recounts mounting racial aggressions in ongoing encounters in twenty-first-century daily life and in the media. Citizenis her fifth published poetry collection.
Earlier this year, Professor Rankine made literary history when she was the first author to have a work nominated as a finalist in two categories in the 39-year history of the National Book Critics Circle Awards.
Professor Rankine is a native of Jamaica. She is a graduate of Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, and holds a master of fine arts degree in poetry from Columbia University.
Claudia Rankine has been named the eighth winner of the $50,000 Jackson Poetry Prize. The award, run by the nonprofit organization Poets & Writers, is “given annually to an American poet of exceptional talent who deserves wider recognition.”
In an email interview with the New York Times on Monday, Ms. Rankine referred to her “dramatic changes stylistically, formally and in terms of content” over the course of her career. “For me, this prize recognizes the importance of experimentation and radical imagination, to use Robin Kelley’s terminology,” she said. (Robin Kelley is the author of “Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination”.) “Often a division is made between politics and poetry,” Ms. Rankine continued, “and I like to think this is a moment when the intersection is recognized.”
The poets on this year’s panel of judges for the prize were Tracy K. Smith, David St. John and Mark Strand.
In October, Ms. Rankine will publish “Citizen,” a follow-up to 2004’s “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely.” “Both books reside in the realm where one’s attempts to negotiate a day are complicated by racial interactions,” Ms. Rankine said. “Where ‘Lonely’ looked at the role of media in our private lives, ‘Citizen’ attempts to understand how black people, like tennis star Serena Williams, negotiate racism on a public stage.”
The Jackson Poetry Prize was first awarded in 2007. The previous winners are Arthur Sze, Henri Cole, James Richardson, Harryette Mullen, Linda Gregg, Tony Hoagland and Elizabeth Alexander.
With Black History Month winding down, Fox Sports joined forces with poet Raliq Bashard for a sports-centric tribute to the legends who paved the way for today’s athletes. Check out the video above, put together by Fox and their partners at Relevant 24. To see the full written text of Bashard’s inspiring spoken-word testimonial, as well as specific stories about black sports figures such as Sugar Ray Robinson, Vonetta Flowers, Larry Dobyand Wilma Rudolph, click here.
On June 4, the New York State Writers Hall of Fame will induct eight outstanding authors – Walter Mosley, Countee Cullen, Maurice Sendak, Alice McDermott, Miguel Pinero, James Fenimore Cooper, Calvin Trillin and Marilyn Hacker. Mosley is best known for his Easy Rawlins novels Devil in a Blue Dress and Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned, while Cullen came to prominence as a poet during the Harlem Renaissance, publishing classics such as Color and Copper Sun.
Each honoree is inducted personally with a few words by a friend or representative, and the 2013 ceremony will be held at New York’s Princeton Club.
Frank X. Walker, an associate professor of English at the University of Kentucky, has been named as the poet laureate of Kentucky by Steve Beshear, the state’s governor. He is the first African-American poet to hold that position. Walker also serves as the university’s director of African-American and Africana studies program.He will take the position of poet laureate in a public ceremony that is to take place at the state capitol building in Frankfort.
Walker, who is the author of a number of books, has taught at the University of Kentucky since 2010. Before that, he was a member of the faculty at Northern Kentucky University and at Eastern Kentucky University. He has become well-known for creating the term “Affrilachia,” which is designed to unify Appalachian and African-American culture and history.
One of the earliest writings of Jupiter Hammon, the first African-American poet to be published, has been found. Born into slavery in Long Island, New York, he was allowed to explore his master’s library. Hammon went on to publish his first work, “An Evening Thought,” in 1760.
Julie McCown, a doctoral student at the University of Texas at Arlington, was researching several libraries for a particular poem and found success at Manuscripts and Archives at Yale University Library in Connecticut. The poem, published in 1786, is telling of Hammon’s evolved thoughts on slavery in America, according to Cedrick May, a UTA professor.
LAWRENCE – A grant awarded to a University of Kansas researcher from the National Endowment for the Humanities will spur the creation of an institute on reading and teaching African-American poetry.
The project is led by Maryemma Graham (pictured), a University Distinguished Professor in the Department of English in the KU College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. The institute, “Don’t Deny My Voice: Reading and Teaching African-American Poetry,” will be open to college and university teachers from across the country. NEH awarded $189,000 to support the program.
The institute will be guided by experts in the field and supported by the archival resources of KU’s Project on the History of Black Writing and the Furious Flower Poetry Center at James Madison University.
Graham founded and continues to direct the Project on the History of Black Writing, located within KU’s Department of English, which is the only archive of its kind and has been in the forefront of black literary studies and inclusion efforts in higher education for 29 years. This grant marks HBW’s seventh from NEH and the fifth national institute in its 14-year history at KU. The institute will be coordinated by Sarah Arbuthnot Lendt, Project on the History of Black Writing grant specialist and KU English instructor. Continue reading “Institute For Teaching African-American Poetry Awarded National Grant”→