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2022 Cave Canem Prize Reading with Ariana Benson & Sharan Strange

September 12, 2023 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

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Refreshments at 6:00 p.m. (ET)
Reading at 7:00 p.m. (ET)
Book signing at 8:00 p.m. (ET)


The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
The American Negro Theatre
515 Malcolm X Blvd, New York, NY 10037

Join Cave Canem in celebrating Ariana Benson’s Black Pastoral–a collection that illustrates the beauty inherent in Blackness, in nature, and to the remarkable relationship they share. It surveys the ways in which our histories (both Black and ecological), our suffering and our thriving, are forever wound around one another. 

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Of the winning manuscript, judge Willie Perdomo writes, “If poetry is a form of prayer, then Black Pastoral is the church, pew, pastor, baptismal site, hymn, and a symphonic archive of our historical silences. This collection of poems is a transcendent appraisal of the blood that was extracted from Black bodies.”

Ariana Benson (2023) was born in Norfolk, Virginia. A 2022 recipient of the Furious Flower Poetry Prize and the Porter House Review Poetry Prize, Benson also won the 2021 Graybeal Gowen Prize for Virginia Poets, and an Academy of American Poets Prize from her alma mater, Spelman College. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in Poetry, Poem-A-Day, Ploughshares, and elsewhere. Most recently, she was awarded a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation.

Sharan Strange has published poems and essays in numerous journals and anthologies in the U.S. and abroad—most recently in Black Imagination (2020), Furious Flower: Seeding the Future of African American Poetry (2019), and Bearden’s Odyssey: Poets Respond to the Art of Romare Bearden (2016). She has also created sonic and visual art-based works for museum and gallery exhibitions in New York, Boston, Oakland, Seattle, and Atlanta, and her collaborations with composers have been performed by the International Contemporary Ensemble, the American Modern Ensemble, and The Dream Unfinished Orchestra, among others. Strange is the author of Ash, which won the Barnard Women Poets’ Prize. She is a recipient of the Rona Jaffe Foundation Award, and a 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Georgia Writers’ Association. She teaches writing at Spelman College. 

This program is supported, in part, by the Amazon Literary Partnership Poetry Fund in partnership with the Academy of American Poets; Consolidated Edison Company of New York; a Humanities New York Action Grant with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities; National Endowment for the Arts; by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; New York State Council on the Arts;  and the Seth Sprague Educational and Charitable Foundation. Co-presented by The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.