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2015 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship Winners Announced

$129,000 in prizes awarded to five young poets
September 1st, 2015
2015 Lilly-Rosenberg Poetry Fellows Danniel Schoonebeek, Erika L. Sánchez, Jamila Woods, Safiya Sinclair, and Nate Marshall, Illustration by Archer Prewitt.

CHICAGO—The Poetry Foundation and Poetry magazine are pleased to announce the five recipients of the 2015 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowships: Nate Marshall, Erika L. Sánchez, Danniel Schoonebeek, Safiya Sinclair, and Jamila Woods. 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 US poets between 21 and 31 years of age.

“Our winners this year are five poets who are accomplished in the most capacious and meaningful sense of the word,” says Don Share, editor of Poetry magazine. “They are not only gifted writers but also keen educators, activists, leaders in their communities. Each of these distinctive and skillful people, both at and away from the writing desk, is devoted to illuminating us in significant and inspiring ways."  

Established in 1989 by Ruth Lilly to encourage the further writing and study of poetry, 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 US 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.

“One of the Foundation’s proudest moments every year is the announcement of five young poets whom we know will do great things in poetry,” said Henry Bienen, interim president of the Poetry Foundation. “This is a phenomenal group. The greatest applause you can give them is to read their poems.”

Nate Marshall’s first book, Wild Hundreds (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015), won the Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize. He is a coeditor of The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop (2015). He is a visiting assistant professor at Wabash College, a founding member of the Dark Noise poetry collective, and a Cave Canem fellow. His work has appeared in Poetry, Indiana Review, and The New Republic, among other publications. He was the star of the award-winning documentary Louder Than a Bomb and has been featured in the HBO original series “Brave New Voices.” Marshall received the 2014 Hurston/Wright Founding Members Award for College Writers and the 2013 Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Award.

Erika L. Sánchez is a CantoMundo fellow and winner of the 2013 “Discovery”/Boston Review Prize. She has received scholarships from the Fulbright Program and Bread Loaf Writers' Conference. Her poetry has appeared in Boston Review, diode, Hayden's Ferry Review, Hunger Mountain, Pleiades, and Poetry; on “Latino USA” (NPR); and in the anthology Please Excuse This Poem: 100 New Poems for the Next Generation (2015). Her nonfiction has been published in Al Jazeera, Cosmopolitan, the Guardian, NBC News, Rolling Stone, Salon, and many others. Sánchez lives in Chicago.

Danniel Schoonebeek’s American Barricade (YesYes Books, 2014) was named one of the year’s ten standout debuts by Poets & Writers. His work has appeared in the New Yorker, Poetry, Tin House, Iowa Review, Fence, BOMB, the Brooklyn Rail, jubilat, Guernica, and elsewhere. He has received awards and honors from the Millay Colony for the Arts, Poets House, the Ace Hotel, and Oregon State University. Schoonebeek hosts the Hatchet Job reading series in Brooklyn and has served as editor of the PEN Poetry Series since 2013. His second book, a travelogue called C’est la guerre, is forthcoming from Poor Claudia in 2015.

Safiya Sinclair was born and raised in Montego Bay, Jamaica, and earned her MFA in poetry at the University of Virginia. Her first full-length collection, Cannibal (University of Nebraska Press, 2016), won the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Poetry, Prairie Schooner, the Cincinnati Review, the JournalSonora Review, and elsewhere. She has been awarded a writing fellowship from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, an Amy Clampitt Residency Award, an Emerging Writer Fellowship from Aspen Summer Words, and an Academy of American Poets Prize. She is currently pursuing a PhD in literature and creative writing at the University of Southern California, where she is a Dornsife doctoral fellow.

Poet, singer, and teaching artist Jamila Woods has been called “a modern-day Renaissance woman” by the Chicago Sun-Times. She is Pushcart Prize nominee, and her poetry has been published by MUZZLEThird World Press, and Poetry magazine. She is the associate artistic director of Young Chicago Authors and a founding member of its Teaching Artist Corps. Woods is a member of Dark Noise, a collective of poets and educators of color, and the frontwoman of the Chicago-based soul music duo M&O. She lives in Chicago.

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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