Zaina Alsous Named Winner of 2019 Etel Adnan Poetry Prize
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Zaina Alsous has been named the winner of the annual Etel Adnan Poetry Prize for her collection, A Theory of Birds. Alsous will receive $1,000, and the University of Arkansas Press will publish her collection in the fall of 2019.
A Theory of Birds uses ornithology as metaphor, placing species naming and extinction in conversation with colonial “discovery” events and the gaze that assists imperial violence.
Alsous is a daughter of the Palestinian diaspora, born and raised in North Carolina. She currently lives in Miami, Florida, while pursuing an MFA in poetry and teaching undergraduate writing at the University of Miami.
The Etel Adnan Poetry Prize is supported by the King Fahd Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Arkansas. It is named for Lebanese poet, essayist, and visual artist Etel Adnan, who the journal MELUS --The Society for the Study of the Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States -- called "arguably the most celebrated and accomplished Arab American author writing today."
“‘The dervish in me can’t let go of my addiction/to theory.’ There is perhaps no other sentence that captures the brilliance of Zaina Alsous’s poetry as this one does,” series editors Hayan Charara and Fady Joudah said. “We were excited to encounter a measured, nuanced sophistication that charms the mind as well as expands the heart. Her concerns are worldly. She resists a history of erasure through a spirit of equality and a desire for illumination. We are honored that she is the winner of this year’s Etel Adnan Poetry Prize.”
Charara is the author of three poetry books, and he is the editor of Inclined to Speak, an anthology of contemporary Arab American poetry published by the University of Arkansas Press. His honors include a National Endowment for the Arts poetry fellowship and an Arab American Book Award.
Joudah is the author of four collections of poetry and five volumes of poetry translation from Arabic. His honors include The Yale Series for Younger Poets, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a PEN award, and the Griffin Poetry Prize.
Every year the University of Arkansas Press together with the Radius of Arab American Writers accepts submissions for the Etel Adnan Poetry Series and awards 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 2018 winner was Peter Twal for his collection Our Earliest Tattoos, which will be published in October. The 2017 winner was Jess Rizkallah for her collection the magic my body becomes, which was named a finalist for The Believer Poetry Award.
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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