Poet wins prestigious Whiting Award

Roger Reeves, assistant professor of English

Winning the $50,000 Whiting Award was “amazing and humbling,” says Roger Reeves, assistant professor of English. Photo: Chris Strong

A poet and faculty member in English was selected for the $50,000 Whiting Award, a prominent creative writing honor that annually recognizes 10 emerging writers in fiction, nonfiction, poetry and drama.

Roger Reeves received the award from the Whiting Foundation for “early accomplishment and the promise of great work to come.”

Reeves, assistant professor of English, is interested in diverse topics — from folk music and minstrelsy to the emotional and intellectual legacy of lynching. His poems explore the African American experience, politics, personal ordeals and pop culture.

Reeves described the Whiting Award honor as “amazing and humbling.”

“It affirms, for me, that I must risk and risk and risk — not to get comfortable,” he said.

The Whiting Award is Reeves’ latest prize for literary distinction.

Since joining UIC in 2011, he has been awarded a 2013 National Endowment for the Arts creative writing grant for outstanding poets and a 2013 Pushcart Prize, a major honor for work published by small literary magazines or small presses around the world.

His first book, King Me, was named one of the best books of 2013 by Library Journal and Tin House. It received the 2014 Levis Reading Prize and the Zacharis First Book Award.

His poem “Kletic of Walt Whitman” was selected in 2009 for Best New Poets, an annual anthology of 50 poems from emerging writers.

Last month, he received the UIC Researcher of the Year Rising Star Award, which honors early-career researchers who show promise as future leaders.

Over his career, Reeves’ work has appeared in major publications such as Poetry, Ploughshares and American Poetry Review.

As a 2014-15 Hodder Fellow in residence at Princeton University, he is continuing work on his poetry collection, The Last American Minstrel.

Reeves received a master’s degree in creative writing and a doctorate in English from the University of Texas-Austin.

 

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