Huron graduate Angel Nafis wins national poetry fellowship

By Jo Mathis/AAPS District News

A 2006 Huron High School graduate with a love of language has won a prestigious poetry fellowship.

The Poetry Foundation and “Poetry” magazine has announced that Angel Nafis is one of five recipients of the 2016 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowships.

                                                 Angel Nafis

Although she was a Huron student, Nafis took Jeff Kass’ Creative Writing  class at Pioneer,  and also worked with him at Neutral Zone through the VOLUME Youth Poetry Project.

“Angel loves language and has always loved language,” recalls Kass. “Even when she was 15 years old, there was a writer in her itching for the chance to burst out and share her ideas with the world. She is an incredibly powerful voice who is unafraid to investigate race, class, gender and sexuality in complex and deeply thoughtful ways.”
The $25,800 prize is intended to encourage the further study and writing of poetry and is open to all U.S. poets between 21 and 31 years of age. It is among the largest awards offered to young poets in the country.  Nafis shares the honor with Kaveh Akbar, Jos Charles,  Alison C. Rollins, and Javier Zamora.

“Poets aren’t just makers, they are doers,” said “Poetry” editor Don Share in a statement to the press.  “Each one of the 2016 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellows excels at both of these things. They have all already had a salutary influence on American poetry, and it’s an honor for us to support their distinctive and essential efforts in an art form that is reaching more people than ever before.”

Nafis was on the Ann Arbor Youth Poetry Slam Team in 2005 and 2006 and for the last five years, has come back to Ann Arbor each summer to teach in the Neutral Zone’s Summer Creative Writing Camp – The VOLUME Summer Institute. Her first book “BlackGirl Mansion” was published by The Neutral Zone’s Red Beard Press and has sold more than 800 copies.

After graduating from Huron, Nafis earned her bachelor’s degree at Hunter College. She tours internationally as the black feminist poetry duo “The Other Black Girl Collective” with Morgan Parker, and has represented New York City at both the National Poetry Slam and the Women of the World Poetry Slam. She is an Urban Word NYC Mentor and the founder, curator, and host of the Greenlight Poetry Salon. Nafis is an MFA candidate at Warren Wilson College and lives in Brooklyn, New York.


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