For immediate release

2016 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship Winners Announced

$129,000 in prizes awarded to five young poets
September 1, 2016

CHICAGO — The Poetry Foundation and Poetry magazine are pleased to announce the five recipients of the 2016 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowships: Kaveh Akbar, Jos Charles, Angel Nafis, Alison C. Rollins, and Javier Zamora. Among the largest awards offered to young poets in the United States, the $25,800 prize is intended to encourage the further study and writing of poetry and is open to all U.S. poets between 21 and 31 years of age.

“Poets aren’t just makers, they are doers,” says Don Share, editor of Poetry magazine. “Each one of the 2016 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellows excels at both of these things. They have all already had a salutary influence on American poetry, and it’s an honor for us to support their distinctive and essential efforts in an art form that is reaching more people than ever before."  

Established in 1989 by Ruth Lilly, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship program has dramatically expanded since its inception. Until 1995, university writing programs nationwide each nominated one student poet for a single fellowship; from 1996 until 2007, two fellowships were awarded. In 2008, the competition was opened to all U.S. poets between 21 and 31 years of age, and the number of fellowships increased to five, totaling $75,000. In 2013, the Poetry Foundation received a generous gift from the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Memorial Fund to create the Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowships, which increased the fellowship amount from $15,000 to $25,800.

Kaveh Akbar is the founder and editor of Divedapper, a home for interviews with the most vital voices in contemporary poetry. His poems have appeared in Poetry, American Poetry Review, Guernica, PBS NewsHour, Boston Review, and elsewhere. Alice James Books will publish Akbar’s debut full-length collection, Calling a Wolf a Wolf, in November 2017 and Sibling Rivalry Press will publish his chapbook, Portrait of the Alcoholic, in January 2017. Akbar founded and cohosts the monthly poetry podcast All Up in Your Ears with Gabrielle Calvocoressi, francine j. harris, and Jonathan Farmer. He was born in Tehran, Iran, and currently lives and teaches in Florida. 

Jos Charles is a trans poet and the author of Safe Space, published by Ahsahta Press in 2016. They are the founding-editor of THEM: a trans literary journal. Their writing is published in or forthcoming from Poetry, Denver Quarterly, Washington Square Review, PEN America, Action Yes, GLAAD, LAMBDA Literary, and elsewhere. Charles received their MFA from the University of Arizona in Tucson, where they now reside.

Angel Nafis is an Ann Arbor, Michigan native and earned her BA at Hunter College. The author of BlackGirl Mansion (2012), Nafis is a Cave Canem fellow and a recipient of the Millay Colony residency. Her work has appeared in The Rattling Wall, The BreakBeat Poets Anthology, MUZZLE Magazine, The Rumpus, Poetry, and more. Nafis tours internationally as the Black Feminist poetry duo The Other Black Girl Collective with Morgan Parker and has represented New York City at both the National Poetry Slam and the Women of the World Poetry Slam. She is an Urban Word NYC Mentor and the founder, curator, and host of the Greenlight Poetry Salon. Nafis is an MFA candidate at Warren Wilson College and lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Alison C. Rollins was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. A Cave Canem Fellow, she is the second prizewinner of the 2016 James H. Nash Poetry Contest and her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Poetry, River Styx, Vinyl, and elsewhere. She currently works as the librarian for Nerinx Hall, a high school in Webster Groves, Missouri.

Javier Zamora was born in El Salvador and migrated to the United States when he was nine. He holds fellowships from CantoMundo, Colgate University, MacDowell, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Yaddo. The recipient of the 2016 Barnes and Noble Writers for Writers Award, his poems appear or are forthcoming in American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, Poetry, The Kenyon Review, The New Republic, and elsewhere. His first poetry collection, Unaccompanied, is forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press in fall 2017. He currently lives in California, where he is one of Stanford University’s 2016-2018 Wallace Stegner Fellows.

The new Fellows will make their first public appearance together at the the 30th Anniversary Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival in Newark, which will take place from Thursday, October 20th through Sunday, October 23rd, 2016. 

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About the Poetry Foundation
The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, is an independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture. It exists to discover and celebrate the best poetry and to place it before the largest possible audience. The Poetry Foundation seeks to be a leader in shaping a receptive climate for poetry by developing new audiences, creating new avenues for delivery and encouraging new kinds of poetry through innovative literary prizes and programs. For more information, please visit poetryfoundation.org.

About Poetry Magazine
Founded in Chicago by Harriet Monroe in 1912, Poetry is the oldest monthly devoted to verse in the English-speaking world. Monroe’s “Open Door” policy, set forth in Volume 1 of the magazine, remains the most succinct statement of Poetry’s mission: to print the best poetry written today, in whatever style, genre or approach. The magazine established its reputation early by publishing the first important poems of T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Marianne Moore, Wallace Stevens, H.D., William Carlos Williams, Carl Sandburg and other now-classic authors. In succeeding decades it has presented—often for the first time—works by virtually every major contemporary poet. 

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