Department of English, College of LAS, University of Illinois

Illinois Department of English Blog


Welcome to the Department of English blog.

My name is Vicki Mahaffey and I took over as
head of the department on July 1, 2016. I'll be using this site to post updates and information of interest to our faculty, students, and alumni,
along with reflections about our discipline(s) in particular and the humanities in general. As anyone who has ever worked or studied here knows, the Department of English is a vibrant place. If you have something you'd like to see posted here, or if you want to contact me about the content of this blog, drop me an email at

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Joy Harjo Wins Prestigious Wallace Stevens Award

I am thrilled to announce that our new colleague in English, Joy Harjo, has won the prestigious Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets! This award recognizes "outstanding and proven mastery in the art of poetry," according to the Academy. It also comes with a $100,000 stipend. 

Photo credit: Karen Kuehn

Past recipients of the award include a veritable "who's who" of American poets, including John Ashbery, Galway Kinnell, Yusef Komunyakaa, Adrienne Rich, Gary Snyder, and James Tate. It is wonderful to see Joy taking her well-deserved place in this community of poets!

The very apt citation from Academy of American Poets Chancellor Alicia Ostriker reads as follows: 

“Throughout her extraordinary career as poet, storyteller, musician, memoirist, playwright and activist, Joy Harjo has worked to expand our American language, culture, and soul.  A Creek Indian and student of First Nation history, Harjo is rooted simultaneously in the natural world, in earth—especially the landscape of the American southwest— and in the spirit world. Aided by these redemptive forces of nature and spirit, incorporating native traditions of  prayer and myth into a powerfully contemporary idiom,  her visionary justice-seeking art transforms personal and collective bitterness to beauty, fragmentation to wholeness, and trauma to healing.”

Those of us here in Champaign-Urbana will have the opportunity to see Joy read from her work next Wednesday, September 16 at the auditorium of the Spurlock Museum at 7:30--an event hosted by the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities. Please join us and take the opportunity to congratulate Joy Harjo!

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