It appears you are using an older browser. This site is optimized for modern browsers.
To get more out of your browsing experience upgrade your browser.

Adamic · Adichie · Alexander · Ali · Allen · Allende · Appiah · Asch · Bahnimptewa · Baldry · Banks · Bartlett · Baughman · Beckwith · Bell · Berlin · Berry · Blight · Braithwaite · Branch · Breytenbach · Bronfenbrenner · Brooks · Brown · Brown · Carter · Carter · Cayton · Chase · Chin · Cisneros · Clifton · Cofer · Cohn · Coles · Collier · Collins · Conroy · Dahlstrom · Danticat · Davidson · Davies · Davis · Dawidowicz · Dean · Deloria Jr. · Demby · Derricotte · Díaz · Dinnerstein · Dobzhansky · Downs · Drake · Duguid · Dumond · Dunn · Edugyan · Ellison · Eltis · Erdrich · Fabre · Faderman · Fernandes · Field · Fineberg · Fisher · Fladeland · Foxx · Franch · Franklin · Frazier · Fredrickson · Freyre · Furnas · Gaines · Gates Jr. · Genovese · Gibbons · Gibbs · Gimbutas · Girdner · Glazer · Gloria · Gordimer · Gordon · Gordon-Reed · Gosnell · Graham · Graham · Greene · Griffin · Haddon · Haley · Haller Jr. · Hamid · Harris · Hayes, ed. · Hedden · Hersey · Highwater · Hilberg · Holmes · Honour · Huddleston · Hughes · Hunt · Hurston · Huxley · Infeld · Isaacs · Jackson · James · Jess · Jones · Jones · Jordan · Jordan Jr. · July · Kahler · Kelley · Kendrick · Kennedy · Kibbe · Kiernan · Kincaid · King Jr. · Kingston · Kluger · Kozol · Krauss · Laming · Le · LeBlanc · Lee · Lee · Lepore · Levine · Lewis · Lewis · Lewis · Leyburn · Lipsitz · Loftis · Lomax · Loye · Lurie · Mabee · Mahajan · Marra · Marshall · Matejka · McBride · McPherson · Meeker · Mensh · Mensh · Mokgatle · Morris · Morris Jr. · Morrison · Mosley · Mowat · Moynihan · Murray · Myrdal · Nelli · Nelson · North · Olson · Ottley · Parks · Patai · Paton · Patterson · Phillips · Poliakov · Powell · Power · Powers · Rainwater · Rampersad · Richardson · Robinson · Rodriguez · Rosen · Sachar · Sachs · Said · Saitoti · Sams · Samuel · Saunders · Scheinfeld · Seibert · Shamsie · Shavit · Sheehy · Shepherd Jr. · Shetterly · Silver · Simpson · Smith · Smith · Snyder · Solomon · South African Institute of Race Relations · Soyinka · Staples · Stefaniak · Stegner with the editors of Look · Steiner · Sutton · Suyin · Takaki · Thernstrom · Tobias, ed. · Toole · Tucker · van der Post · Vazirani · Walcott · Wallace · Waniek · Ward · Weglyn · West · Whitehead · Wideman · Wilkerson · Wilson · Wilson · Winfrey · Wing · Wood · Wright · Wright · Wyman · X · Yinger

Elizabeth Alexander

2010 Lifetime Achievement

Lifetime - Elizabeth Alexander
Elizabeth Alexander is a poet, essayist, playwright, and teacher born in New York City and raised in Washington, DC. Alexander has degrees from Yale University and Boston University and completed her Ph.D. in English at the University of Pennsylvania. Most recently, she composed and delivered “Praise Song for the Day” for the inauguration of President Barack Obama. The poem has recently been published as a small book from Graywolf Press. In addition, she has published five books of poems: The Venus Hottentot (1990), Body of Life (1996), Antebellum Dream Book (2001), American Sublime (2005), which was one of three finalists for the Pulitzer Prize and was one of the American Library Association’s “Notable Books of the Year;” and her first young adult collection (co-authored with Marilyn Nelson), Miss Crandall’s School for Young Ladies and Little Misses of Color (2008 Connecticut Book Award). Her two collections of essays are The Black Interior (2004) and Power and Possibility (2007), and her play, “Diva Studies,” was produced at the Yale School of Drama.

Professor Alexander is the first recipient of the Alphonse Fletcher, Sr. Fellowship for work that “contributes to improving race relations in American society and furthers the broad social goals of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision of 1954.” She is the 2007 winner of the first Jackson Prize for Poetry, awarded by Poets & Writers, Inc. Other awards include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, two Pushcart Prizes, the George Kent Award, given by Gwendolyn Brooks, a Guggenheim fellowship as well as the Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching at University of Chicago. She is currently chair of the African American Studies Department at Yale University.

Contribute to this Biography

If you have a missing or improved portrait or book cover, please email us at Correction@Anisfield-Wolf.org





* Required

Blog Posts about Elizabeth Alexander

Public Art Inspired By Anisfield-Wolf Canon Makes A Splash Across Cleveland

Riders heading to downtown Cleveland on the RTA’s Red Line may have noticed quite a few more pops of color adorning the city landscape over the past two weeks. The colors have a story, and each story comes from a work or writer in the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award canon.Inter|Urban, the collaboration among the City of Cleveland, the Cleveland Foundation, North East Ohio Area Coordinating Agency, RTA and LAND studio, has filled the 19-mile stretch from Cleveland Hopkins International Airport and into downtown Cleveland with bright, vibrant... Read More →

REVIEW: "The Light Of The World" Is A Surprisingly Buoyant Portrait Of Grief

A 200-page book on the untimely death of a spouse hardly seems like it would make for light summer reading. But as I've devoured Elizabeth Alexander's new memoir, The Light of The World, I've discovered that there's beauty in loss, there's sparkle in remembrance. The poet lost her husband, painter and chef Ficre Ghebreyesus (pronounced Fee-kray Geb-reh-yess-oos) in April 2012, days after his 50th birthday. Their 15-year union produced two sons, Solomon and Simon, and a cozy life in Connecticut, where Alexander is a professor at Yale... Read More →

VIDEO: Richard Blanco And Elizabeth Alexander Share Their Experience As Inaugural Poets

For the first time in history, two inaugural poets shared the same stage and spoke about what the experience meant for their lives. Earlier this month, 2009 Inaugural poet Elizabeth Alexander (also an Anisfield-Wolf lifetime achievement winner in 2010) and 2013 Inaugural poet Richard Blanco spoke at Yale University, with Blanco making his first public appearance since inauguration.  "I felt a little less exposed with 800,000 people than I do right now," Blanco joked in front of the small Yale audience. The two spoke about feedback after... Read More →

VIDEO: What's It Like To Be The Inaugural Poet?

On the eve of President Barack Obama's second inauguration, Yale University hosted a live chat with Elizabeth Alexander, whose "Praise Song Of The Day" was her selection at his first inauguration. Watch the video above for her thoughts on what it's like to be selected to have a part in such a tremendous day.  Read More →

VIDEO: Elizabeth Alexander Discusses Hip-Hop's Link To Poetry

We talk about all things dealing with race and diversity here at Anisfield-Wolf but there is one subject we haven't explored much — the rise of hip hop. In this quick video from Big Think (one of favorite sources of videos of all the people you'd want to hear from), 2012 winner Elizabeth Alexander talks about the nuances of African American poetry and the link to hip-hop music. Check it out and let us know what you think.  Read More →

6 Quotes From Your Favorite Authors

Ernest J. Gaines ‎Because it is more appealing to hear from the authors themselves, we've rounded up some of the best quotes we've heard this year (even if they're a bit older) from some of our distinguished Anisfield-Wolf Award winners. Enjoy!  "I want you to show them the difference between what they think you are and what you can be." — Ernest J. Gaines, A Lesson Before Dying ‎"At some point in life the world's beauty becomes enough. You don't need to photograph, paint or even remember it. It is enough." — Toni Morrison ‎"Art, after... Read More →
↑ Back to Top