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Mai Der Vang Wins 2016 Walt Whitman Award

By Harriet Staff
Photo by Andre Yang

Photo by Andre Yang

Since we’re on the subject of awards, news reached us yesterday of Carolyn Forché’s selection of Mai Der Vang’s Afterland for the 2016 Walt Whitman Award. Excellent choice, Carolyn Forché! More on the award:

As the winner of the Whitman Award, Vang’s manuscript, Afterland, will be published by Graywolf Press in April 2017 and the Academy of American Poets will purchase and send thousands of copies of the book to its members, making it one of the most widely distributed poetry books of the year. Vang will also receive a six-week all-expenses-paid residency at the Civitella Ranieri Center in Umbria, Italy, as well as $5,000. In addition, she will be featured on Poets.org and in American Poets magazine.

About Afterland, Forché writes:

Afterland has haunted me. I keep returning to read these poems aloud, hearing in them a language at once atavistic, contemporary, and profoundly spiritual. Mai Der Vang confronts the Secret War in Laos, the flight of the Hmong people, and their survival as refugees. That a poet could absorb and transform these experiences in a single generation—incising the page with the personal and collective utterances of both the living and the dead, in luminous imagery and a surprising diction that turns both cathedral and widow into verbs, offering both land and body as swidden (slashed and burned)—is nothing short of astonishing. Here is deep attention, prismatic intelligence, and fearless truth.

Find out more at poets.org!

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Posted in Poetry News on Thursday, March 24th, 2016 by Harriet Staff.