Claremont University Awards Afaa Michael Weaver the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award and Yona Harvey the Kate Tufts Discovery Award
Claremont Graduate University (CGU) is pleased to announce that Afaa Michael Weaver of Somerville, Massachusetts, has won the $100,000 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award for his book The Government of Nature (University of Pittsburgh Press). The award, given annually to a mid-career poet, is one of the largest monetary poetry prizes in the United States.
Yona Harvey of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has won the $10,000 Kate Tufts Discovery Award for her book Hemming the Water (Four Way Books). The Kate Tufts Discovery Award is given annually for a first book by a poet of genuine promise.
"We are thrilled to honor and celebrate the work of such accomplished poets," said Wendy Martin, director of the Tufts Poetry Awards and professor of American literature and American studies at Claremont Graduate University. "The Tufts Awards are intended to provide the necessary support to help the winners achieve even wider recognition as well as to honor their continuing commitment to writing outstanding poetry."
Weaver (born Michael S. Weaver) is a native of Baltimore, where he was a factory worker for 15 years. The Government of Nature is his 12th collection of poetry. In it, Weaver explores the trauma of his childhood - including sexual abuse - using a "cartography and thematic structure drawn from Chinese spiritualism."
He has received two Pushcart Awards, the May Sarton Award, and the PDI Award in playwriting from ETA Creative Arts Foundation. Weaver has received fellowships from the NEA, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and the Pew foundation, as well as a Fulbright appointment to Taiwan. As a translator he works in Chinese with poets living in China and Taiwan. He completed his graduate work in creative writing at Brown University. He teaches at Simmons College, where he holds the Alumnae chair, and he is a visiting faculty member in Drew University's MFA in poetry and poetry in translation.
Chief Judge Chase Twichell was captivated by Weaver's life story.
"The Kingsley Tufts Award is one of the most prestigious prizes a poet can win, and I'm delighted to see it go to Afaa," Twichell said. "His father was a sharecropper. After serving for two years in the Army, he toiled for 15 years in factories, writing poems all the while. When he learned that he'd won a National Endowment Fellowship, he quit his job and attended Brown University on a full scholarship. He essentially invented himself from whole cloth as a poet. It's truly remarkable."