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Jillian Weise wins PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award

Jillian Weise

BOA is delighted to share the news that Jillian Weise has won a PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award for Excellence. PEN Oakland announced the winners of the 2020 Josephine Miles Awards via a press release on October 22, 2020.

The PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Awards, named for the late poet and Professor at The University of California at Berkeley, were created to provide recognition for outstanding literary achievement from the entire spectrum of America’s diverse literary community. Seven poets received Josephine Miles Awards in 2020. For more information about PEN Oakland and the PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Awards, visit the PEN Oakland website.

Jillian Weise says of winning the award, "I'm so thrilled about this. Josephine Miles is a personal hero. She was the first woman to receive tenure in the English Department at Berkeley. And very disabled. She tells this remarkable story about having to study math and science in high school because English was on the third floor. No elevator. Only stairs. She couldn't get to the third floor to study her preferred subjects of English and poetry. I wish someone would put out her book—long out of print—Teaching Poet: An Oral Autobiography. I'm honored to be in the company of fellow Josephine Miles Literary Award winners. The award recognizes U.S. multicultural writers, and disability is a culture. It is a culture that intersects with all other identities. I hope this is just the beginning of recognizing the many achievements of disabled poets, fiction writers, cultural workers and activists. Very grateful to PEN Oakland for their percipient recognition of disability as a thriving and even, dare I say, avant-garde artistic culture," said Weise.

The Cyborg Jillian Weise is a poet, performance artist and disability rights activist. Cy’s first book, The Amputee’s Guide to Sex, was reissued in a 10th anniversary edition with a new preface. The Book of Goodbyes (BOA, 2013) won the 2013 James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets and the 2013 Isabella Gardner Award from BOA Editions. Cy’s speculative novel, The Colony, features Darwin, James Watson and Peter SingerCy’s fourth book is Cyborg Detective (BOA, 2019), and a chapbook, Give It To Alfie Tonight, has just been released from the disabled publisher Red Mare Press. Weise’s essays have appeared in A Public SpaceGranta, The New York Times and Tin House. Cy has been awarded residencies from the Fine Arts Work Center, the Fulbright Program and the Lannan Foundation. Cy worked in editorial at The Paris Review and The Iowa Review. Recently, Cy produced the film A Kim Deal Party featuring Eileen Myles, Patricia Lockwood, Alice Wong, Mistress Snow, Karolyn Gehrig and more. Weise created a video production company, this Fall, called Borg 4 Borg Productions. Borg 4 Borg's next film is called A Cheerleader Movie and it will feature exclusively disabled cheerleaders. For more information about Jillian Weise, visit

The 2020 PEN Oakland Award winners will be formally recognized on Saturday, December 5, from 2:00-5:00 P.M. PST. This will be a virtual event hosted by the Oakland Public Library Rockridge Branch. This event is free and open to the public. Register online on the Oakland Public Library website.

Congratulations, Jillian! 

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