We are thrilled to announce that Aracelis Girmay has been selected as a finalist for the 2018 Neustadt International Prize for Literature. Often referred to as "the American Nobel," the Neustadt International Prize is a biennial award sponsored by the University of Oklahoma and managed by the university's literary magazine, World Literature Today.
In a review for the current issue of World Literature Today, poet Matthew Shenoda writes that Aracelis's poems are inhabited "by a people rooted in an antediluvian space, made rootless, or perhaps sent in search of new roots, by the political changes of a postcolonial globe" who "keep trees and flowers in their pockets, frankincense and bread flower in their shirtsleeves, stories and language in their mouths, and the seas they have traveled in the pools of their eyes." Shenoda describes the black maria as "poetry destined to make us as readers whole, to tear asunder our misconceptions of what it means to be alive on this earth, in this moment as members of a continuum."
The Neustadt International Prize is the first international literary award of its scope to originate in the United States and is one of the very few international prizes for which poets, novelists, and playwrights are equally eligible. The award consists of a $50,000 prize, a replica of an eagle feather cast in silver and a certificate. Over 30 Neustadt laureates, finalists, and jurors have been awarded Nobel Prizes after their involvement with the Neustadt International Prize.
Like the Nobel, the Neustadt International Prize honors an entire body of work. Aracelis has received tremendous acclaim for her poetry. Her latest collection, the black maria, won the 2015 Whiting Award for Poetry, was named a 2016 "Gem of the Genre" by O, The Oprah Magazine, and was named a "Best Book of 2016" by The New Yorker, the Boston Globe, Chicago Review of Books, and Publishers Weekly. Her second collection, Kingdom Animalia, won the 2011 Isabella Gardner Poetry Award and the GLCA New Writers Award and was a finalist for both the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award.
Aracelis is the author of three collections of poetry: the black maria (BOA Editions, 2016); Kingdom Animalia (BOA Editions, 2011), and Teeth (Curbstone Press, 2007).The recipient of fellowships from Cave Canem, Civitella Ranieri, and the National Endowment for the Arts, she teaches in Hampshire College’s School for Interdisciplinary Arts and Drew University’s low-residency MFA program in poetry.
Finalists for the Neustadt International Prize were announced yesterday on Facebook. The winner will be announced Thursday, November 9, 2017.
Additional information about the Neustadt International Prize, this year's judging panel, and a full list of finalists can be found on the Neustadt International Prize website.