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Poet Evie Shockley Selected for Holmes National Poetry Prize

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Steve Runk    
Director of Communications
Lewis Center for the Arts
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Poet Evie Shockley
Poet Evie Shockley
Photo by Stéphane Robolin

June 21, 2012

(Princeton, NJ) Poet Evie Shockley has been selected as the 2012 recipient of the Theodore H. Holmes ’51 and Bernice Holmes National Poetry Prize awarded by the Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Creative Writing at Princeton University.

The Holmes National Poetry Prize was established in memory of Princeton 1951 alumnus Theodore H. Holmes and is presented each year to a poet of special merit as selected by the faculty of the Creative Writing Program, which includes writers such as Jeffrey Eugenides, Paul Muldoon, Joyce Carol Oates, James Richardson, Tracy K. Smith, Susan Wheeler, and Edmund White.  The award currently carries a prize of $5,000 and increases each year by $500, and was first made last year to Mark Doty.  The Prize is given by internal nomination only.

Shockley’s publications include two collections of poetry, the new black (Wesleyan University Press, 2011) and a half-red sea (Carolina Wren Press, 2006), and she is the author of Renegade Poetics:  Black Aesthetics and Formal Innovation in African American Poetry (University of Iowa Press, 2011).  Her poetry has appeared in a number of collections and publications, as have her essays.

“I was totally stunned to learn that I'd received the Holmes National Poetry Prize,” stated Shockley.   “As a wholly unlooked-for validation of my work, it is a gift that far exceeds the monetary award attached to it.  I'm delighted, deeply grateful to the esteemed poets who selected me for this honor, and powerfully encouraged to continue to follow my aesthetic vision wherever it leads me.”

Currently an Associate Professor in the English Department at Rutgers University, Shockley has also taught at the Bread Loaf School of English and Wake Forest University and was a Research Affiliate at Williams College.  She holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Northwestern University, where she studied in the Poetry Writing Program, master’s and doctoral degrees in English from Duke University along with certificates in African and African American Studies and Women’s Studies, and is a cum laude graduate of the University of Michigan Law School.

Shockley has received a number of awards and recognitions for her poetry including the 2012 Honor Book in Poetry Literary Award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association, a Best Books of 2011 in Poetry citation from the Library Journal, and a Leo Maitlin Fellowship for a writing residency at the Millay Colony of the Arts.

“We are very pleased to provide this award each year to a poet deserving special recognition thanks to the generosity of the Holmes family,” notes Susan Wheeler, Director of the Program in Creative Writing.  “Evie was a unanimous selection by our faculty from among a strong list of candidates.  She is a terrific poet.”

The Lewis Center for the Arts is part of a major initiative announced by President Shirley M. Tilghman in 2006 to fully embrace the arts as an essential part of the educational experience for all who study and teach at Princeton University. The Lewis Center for the Arts will have a significant impact on the University and the larger community it serves. The public is welcomed to a full range of lectures, exhibitions, concerts and performances at the Center. Many of the Center’s events are free or charge a nominal admission fee.

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