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The collection is split into seven sections, spans decades, and includes previously unpublished and new work by Keene.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

Report Established by State Senator Art Haywood Uncovers Racism in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education

"Ultimately, Pennsylvania's leaders and institutions should respect the dignity of all students," says Senator Art Haywood. "The work to ensure that dignity is intact for Pennsylvania's Students of Color continues with this report in hopes that one day the work will no longer be required."

Cynthia Gyamfi-Bannerman Appointed President of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine

"I appreciate the support I have received from my faculty and trainee colleagues here at UC San Diego along with colleagues from around the world," says Dr. Gyamfi-Bannerman. "Together we will work to advance our field and our reach, improving patient outcomes and eliminating health disparities."

Rate of Black Homeownership in America Remains Virtually Unchanged Since 2012

The National Association of Realtors has found that although homeownership rates in American are steadily increasing, the rate of Black homeownership has experienced significantly less growth than White, Asian, and Hispanic homeownership since 2012.

Safiya George Named President of the University of the Virgin Islands

“As a servant leader, I am confident I will be an effective President for the University of the Virgin Islands and will remain humble and grounded with a sincere desire to improve outcomes and the lives of students, faculty, staff, and the community," says Safiya George, who will assume the role of president of the University of the Virgin Islands this summer.

Featured Jobs