Aurielle Marie Wins 2020 Cave Canem Poetry Prize
Douglas Kearney has selected Aurielle Marie as the winner of the 2020 Cave Canem Poetry Prize for her manuscript Gumbo Ya Ya. Kearney notes: “Some writers write poetry to flex what they can do. Aurielle Marie writes reckoning poems themselves come to work. Gumbo Ya Ya kicks with this lit lit magic, this insistent electricity, pages what sweat ink, bleed it, weep it, drip it. Aurielle Marie will cuss, but an Aurielle Marie poem can curse; that what she has seen, felt, or known, is trans-amplified in the room she gives the poem to do what it’s gonna do. Gumbo Ya Ya is Aurielle Marie’s Dirty-Dirty grimoire drawn from a vernacular trickbag at once up to something and down for whatever. These poems are spell weaving. They are bound to work you.” Aurielle will receive $1,000, publication by the University of Pittsburgh Press in fall 2021, complimentary copies of the book, and a feature reading.
This year’s runner up is Marvin Campbell for his manuscript Black Love Mixtape. Kearney selected Campbell’s manuscript for “how deftly he underscores both theory and praxis, creating a gorgeous study of performers from Aretha to Stormzy. His poems suggest new ways to hear them and think through/with what they’ve made.”
Aurielle Marie is a gender/queer and Black essayist, poet, and community organizer hailing from the Deep South. They’ve received invitations to fellowships from Lambda Literary, VONA Voices, the Watering Hole, and Tin House. Her work is featured or forthcoming in Triquarterly, The Guardian, Teen Vogue, Black Warrior Review, Adroit Journal, Vinyl, and BOAAT. They’re the Lambda Literary 2019 Poetry Emerging Writer-in-Residence and the 2019 Ploughshares Emerging Writers Award winner for Poetry. Aurielle writes and speaks about all things Blackness, bodies, sex, and pop culture from a Black feminist lens.
Raised in central Pennsylvania, Marvin Campbell is a graduate of Vassar College and has a Ph.D. in African American literature from the University of Virginia. He has written on Elizabeth Bishop, Wallace Stevens, and is currently working on a piece on the poetic iterations of Emmett Till. Marvin is also deeply invested in poetry, developing The Black Love Mixtape with Callaloo and the Hurston/Wright Foundation. He has taught extensively.
Established in 1999 with Rita Dove’s selection of Natasha Trethewey’s Domestic Work, the Cave Canem Poetry Prize is a first-book award dedicated to launching the publishing career of a Black poet. The 2021 Cave Canem Poetry Prize will be open for submissions in January 2021.