Rutgers University Newark’s John Keene Wins National Book Award for Poetry

John Keene, a Distinguished Professor and chair of Africana studies at Rutgers University Newark, received the National Book Award for Poetry. He was honored for his 234-page collection entitled Punks: New & Selected Poems (Song Cave, 2021).

The collection is split into seven sections, spans decades, and includes previously unpublished and new work by Keene. The collection weaves together historic narratives of loss, lust, and love via many voices, ranging from historic Black personalities to Keene’s friends and lovers in gay bars and bedrooms addressing topics such as desire, oppression, AIDS, and grief.

In his acceptance speech, Professor Keene said “I’m actually crying. I’m in shock! I put together some notes because I said, in the improbable instance that I actually receive this award, all the words — I work with words, right? — would fly right out of my head.”

Professor Keene dedicated his award “to all the readers out there and to my ancestors on whose shoulders I stand, ancestors by lineage and association, including the several generations of writers, particularly the Black, gay and trans writers, especially those whom we lost to HIV/AIDS in the 1980s and 1990s. I had the pleasure of hearing and meeting some of these writers, and let me just say they were brilliant, they were fierce, they were original, they were daring, they were courageous, and their voices not only captured the world they were living in but envisioned a better one. Let’s return to their words and the words of so many vital writers and artists we may have forgotten.”

Professor Keene received a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and a master of fine arts degree from New York University. Before joining the faculty at Rutgers University-Newark, he taught at Brown University and Northwestern University.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Get the JBHE Weekly Bulletin

Receive our weekly email newsletter delivered to your inbox

Latest News

Students at Three HBCUs in New Orleans to Participate in Power of Prosperity Initiative

The Power of Prosperity program will help remove barriers to students’ academic success by providing students and their families with free access to financial support and resources.

Yale University Scholar Wins Early Career Physics Award

Charles D. Brown II, an assistant professor of physics at Yale University, has been selected as the winner the Joseph A. Johnson Award for Excellence from the American Institute of Physics and the National Society of Black Physicists.

Three African Americans Appointed to New Administrative Posts at Universities

Arthur Lumzy Jr. is the new director of student career preparedness at Texas A&M University–Commerce. Sandra L. Barnes was named associate provost for undergraduate education and student success at Alcorn State University in Mississippi and Roberto Campos-Marquetti has been appointed assistant vice president for staff and labor relations at Duke University.

North Carolina A&T State University to Debut New Graduate Programs in Criminal Justice

The university's criminal justice master’s and doctoral programs are designed to provide high-quality graduate education and training in criminal justice with the four areas of specialization: investigative science, digital forensics, research methodology, and social justice.

Featured Jobs