We congratulate Hafizah Geter, Rae Armantrout, and Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, who are all Longlisted for awards from PEN America.
Hafizah Geter’s debut poetry collection, Un-American, is Longlisted for the PEN Open Book Award. The PEN Open Book Award honors a work of fiction, literary nonfiction, biography/memoir, or poetry written by an author of color. The award was created by PEN America’s Open Book Committee, a group committed to racial and ethnic diversity within the literary and publishing communities.
Geter’s collection moves readers through the fraught internal and external landscapes—linguistic, cultural, racial, familial—of those whose lives are shaped and transformed by immigration. The daughter of a Nigerian Muslim woman and a former Southern Baptist black man, Geter charts the history of a black family of mixed citizenships through poems imbued by migration, racism, queerness, loss, and the heartbreak of trying to feel at home in a country that does not recognize you.
We are also pleased to announce that Rae Armantrout’s Conjure and Honorée Fanonne Jeffers’s The Age of Phillis are both Longlisted for the PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry. The PEN/Voelcker Award honors a distinguished collection of poetry that represents a notable and accomplished literary presence.
Rae Armantrout has always taken pleasure in uncertainties and conundrums, the tricky nuances of language and feeling. In Conjure that pleasure is matched by dread; fascination meets fear as the poet considers an increasingly toxic world.
The Age of Phillis, by award-winning writer Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, imagines the life and times of Wheatley: her childhood in the Gambia, West Africa, her life with her white American owners, her friendship with Obour Tanner, and her marriage to the enigmatic John Peters. Woven throughout are poems about Wheatley’s “age”—the era that encompassed political, philosophical, and religious upheaval, as well as the transatlantic slave trade.
From PEN America’s press release:
The Longlists for its 2021 Literary Awards span 11 book awards and encompassing more than 125 writers and translators, representing the year’s most extraordinary literary talents. Over 80 judges have selected the Longlists, which are made up of categories including the novel, short story collection, translation, poetry, science writing, essay, biography, and more. (Read the full release here.)
Finalists for PEN America Literary Awards will be announced in February 2021.