Francis to Receive the Aiken Taylor Award

The Sewanee Review is pleased to announce that Vievee Francis is the recipient of the 2021 Aiken Taylor Award for Modern American Poetry.

Vievee Francis is a poet whose work is suffused with abundance: of what emerges from earth, of stories told by those who live upon it, and of the ravages visited on the same, all shaped by a singular voice expressing the full range and intensity of human feeling. A Texas native who has lived in Michigan, North Carolina, and most recently New Hampshire, Francis reveals in her work the pastures, fields, and forests of these places she has called home. Her poems also work and tend that ground in order to reveal its histories, its traumas, and the revelatory truth of her own experience. Her work reminds us that the question of who we are is often answered as much by one that asks where, and how we attend to and care for the place we call our own. Her poems are, in the fullest sense, acts of cultivation. She is the author of three collections of poetry, including “Blue-Tail Fly” and “Horse in the Dark.” Her most recent collection, “Forest Primeval,” received the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award and the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award.

University Vice Chancellor Reuben E. Brigety, II and Sewanee Review editor Adam Ross will present Francis with the Aiken Taylor Award at 4 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 13, in Convocation Hall, after which Francis will read from her body of work

As part of this year’s award celebration, poet Phillip B. Williams will lecture on Francis’ poetry at 4 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 12, in Guerry Auditorium. Williams, a 2020-21 Fellow at Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, is the author of “Thief in the Interior,” winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry. He currently serves as Professor of English at Bennington College.

Every year since 1987, the Sewanee Review has honored a distinguished poet in the maturity of their career with the Aiken Taylor Award in Modern American Poetry. Established by the physician and poet K. P. A. Taylor in honor of his elder brother, the modernist poet and story writer Conrad Aiken, the Aiken Taylor Award has celebrated poets such as Howard Nemerov, Gwendolyn Brooks, Wendell Berry, Louise Glück, and Billy Collins.

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