SPD is delighted to announce that M. NourbeSe Philip has been honored with the PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature, and Rigoberto González will be honored with the PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry!

Founded in 2016 in collaboration with the Vladimir Nabokov Literary Foundation, the $50,000 PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature is conferred annually to a living author whose body of work, either written in or translated into English, represents the highest level of achievement in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and/or drama, and is of enduring originality and consummate craftsmanship. Previous winners of the award include Sandra Cisneros, Edna O’Brien, and Adonis.

This year’s PEN/Nabokov Award judges—Alexis Okeowo, George Elliott Clarke, Hari Kunzru, Lila Azam Zanganeh, and Viet Thanh Nguyen—have chosen poet, novelist, and essayist M. NourbeSe Philip, who has bent and pushed poetry and prose in exhilarating directions, via vivid and fragmentary portraits of the pluralities of African Diasporic experience and searing indictments of the oppressive structures—legal, linguistic, social—carried across history into our present. The Tobago-born, Canada-based writer’s many singular, varied works include She Tries Her Tongue, Her Silence Softly Breaks, and Zong!

The PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry, established by a bequest from Hunce Voelcker and given in even-numbered years, confers $5,000 to a poet whose body of work represents a notable and accomplished presence in American literature. The poet honored by the award is one who has expanded the scope of American poetry and continues to mature with each successive volume of poetry. As this year’s panel of judges—Cornelius Eady, Deborah Paredez, Linda Gregerson, and Monica Youn—writes, González has “devoted his writing life not only to the development of his astonishing voice as a poet and non-fiction writer but to his astute and discerning craft as a reviewer and steadfast advocate for other Latinx voices.”

Blank: Essays & Interviews
(Book*hug, 2017)
By M. NourbeSe Philip

"In heretical writings that work to make the disappeared perceptible, BLANK explores questions of race, the body politic,timeliness, recurrence, ongoingness, art, and the so-called multicultural nation. Through these considerations, Philip creates a linguistic form that registers the presence of what has seemingly dissolved, a form that also imprints the loss and the silence surrounding those disappearances in its very presence."

(Tupelo Press, 2006)
By Rigoberto Gonzalez

" A testimony of sexuality in times of violence, this journey into the intimate language of the male body is freighted with danger and desire and expressed through a dark eroticism reminiscent of Garcia Lorca and Cavafy."

Our Lady of the Crossword
(A Midsummer Night's Press, 2015)
By Rigoberto Gonzalez

"This well-wrought collection gestures to González's formal poetics and examines the complexities of a queer identity within the U.S., México and on the rich border landscape that unites the two nations. Powerful and sensory, playful and erotic, these poems dazzle on the page with González's characteristic fireworks. OUR LADY OF THE CROSSWORD is a saint for all those sinners looking for blessings, miracles, redemption—and drag."

More about the PEN Major Achievement Awards here.
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