feminism, race, transnationalism

Elizabeth Alexander Writing Award

Inaugural Winners, Spring 2020


For Poetry:

For Prose:

Dr. Nancy Kang

In Blocks of Light, She Calls Back

About “In Blocks of Lights, She Calls Back”, the CWAB said:

“In Blocks of Light, She Calls Back” delivers a high-powered jolt to the system. While ostensibly a narrative poem, the gritty inner-city setting is captured by a lyric lens; instead of following a story, we’re immersed from start to finish in a wildly original word-painting: traffic snail-inches forward, stars seem to shine with lip-gloss, and the July Fourth becomes “lit fire-flowers in the loamy sky.” It’s difficult not to ascribe this linguistic vibrancy to the protagonist herself. The dangers she faces are real, and preventable (the world she walks through is rife with shady men and stray bullets), yet the idiosyncratic richness of expression insists that we experience her as a unique individual, rather than a figure in a sensationalist news report.


Dr. Adrienne Perry


About “Lamaze”, the CWAB said:

“Lamaze” is the story of two mixed-race sisters, growing up in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and grappling with teenage pregnancy, racism, alcoholism and domestic violence. Summarized like this, the story sounds bleak; it is anything but. The sure, powerful voice of the narrator, 15-year old Adrienne, is utterly compelling as she leads us backwards in time, peeling back layers of her family’s experience to discover the almost magical heart of her love for her older sister. The judges were captivated by the quality of this narrative voice, paired with the rigorous and sophisticated formality of the story’s structure and the way it complicates, in subtle and meaningful ways, issues of race, sexuality, class, and gender in rural America.


Submissions for the Elizabeth Alexander Creative Writing Award are open! 

The Elizabeth Alexander Creative Writing Award will be bestowed at the Smith College Poetry Center, which Dr. Alexander played a central role in founding. The awardee will be informed in advance and will receive a $500 monetary prize along with publication of their piece.