Elizabeth Alexander is a professor of African American and American studies at Yale University. She has published four books of poems, most recently American Sublime: Poems (Graywolf Press, 2005), which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and one of the American Library Association’s “Notable Books of the Year.” She has also published a collection of essays on African American literature and culture, The Black Interior: Essays (Graywolf Press, 2004), and her play, Diva Studies, was produced at the Yale School of Drama.
Alexander’s work for the upcoming year includes the critical study “A New Genealogy of African American Experimental Poetry”; the anthology “Towards a Light Both Brilliant and Unseen: African American Poems About Education”; and an untitled collection of new poems.
Alexander’s poems are anthologized in dozens of collections and have been translated into Bengali, German, Italian, and Spanish. Her awards include the Llewellyn John and Harriet Manchester Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching at the University of Chicago; a Guggenheim Fellowship; and an inaugural Alphonse Fletcher, Sr. Fellowship for work that contributes “to improving race relations in American society and furthering the broad social goals of the US Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision.” She is also the winner of the inaugural Jackson Poetry Prize, awarded by Poets and Writers in 2007. She has taught at the University of Chicago, Haverford College, New York University, and Smith College, where she was Grace Hazard Conkling Writer-in-Residence and first director of the Poetry Center at Smith College.