Jess Rizkallah Named Winner of Inaugural Etel Adnan Poetry Prize

Jess Rizkallah.
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Jess Rizkallah.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Jess Rizkallah has been named the winner of the inaugural Etel Adnan Poetry Prize for her collection, the magic my body becomes. Rizkallah is a Lebanese-American writer and illustrator.

This collection explores family history, love, religion, language, and gender expectations within the Arab American experience. Rizkallah addresses the middle ground of being an Arab American, of being too Arab for America and too American for an ancestral country. The poems illustrate the difficulty in separating those aspects of identity that are come by organically from those which are acquired second-hand.

“As I go through Jessica Rizkallah’s poems, I keep saying to myself, ‘No poet this young should be this good’,” said series editor Hayan Charara. “Of course, we’re lucky that she is. Her inventive language, her humor, her tenderness, her insights will astonish us.”

Rizkallah lives in Boston and New York. She's an alumna of Lesley University, an M.F.A. candidate at New York University, and founding editor at Maps for Teeth magazine/pizza pi press. Her work has appeared in Word Riot, Nailed Magazine, Button Poetry, and HEArt Online.

Something about her poetry is already ahead of us,” Charara said. “Her voice is that of the next generation.”

Every year the University of Arkansas Press together with the Radius of Arab American Writers accept submissions for the Etel Adnan Poetry Series and award the $1,000 Etel Adnan Poetry Prize to a first or second book of poetry, in English, by a writer of Arab heritage. Since its founding in 1996 the Radius of Arab American Writers has celebrated and fostered the writings and writers that make up the vibrant and diverse Arab American community.

The series editors are Hayan Charara and Fady Joudah, and the prize is named in honor of the world-renowned poet, novelist, essayist, and artist Etel Adnan. The Etel Adnan Poetry Prize is supported by the King Fahd Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Arkansas.

Rizkallah’s collection, the magic my body becomes, will be published in Fall 2017.

About the University of Arkansas Press: The University of Arkansas Press was founded in 1980 as the book publishing division of the University of Arkansas. A member of the Association of American University Presses, it has as its central and continuing mission the publication of books that serve both the broader academic community and Arkansas and the region.

About the King Fahd Center: The King Fahd Center for Middle East Studies is an academic and research unit in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Arkansas, dedicated to the study of the modern Middle East and the geo-cultural area in which Islamic civilization prospered and continues to shape world history.

About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among only 2 percent of universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.

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Contacts

Charlie Shields, marketing assistant
University of Arkansas Press
479-575-7258, cmoss@uark.edu

Steve Voorhies, manager of media relations
University Relations
479-575-3583, voorhies@uark.edu

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