UNCG Alum Wins the Oldest Annual Literary Prize in the US

Posted on Wednesday, March 5th, 2014 by admin under Awards and Honors, Careers, Graduate Alumni. Tags: , , ,

Student Perspective Post by Matt Barrett
Graduate Assistant for Communications 


Earlier this week Ansel Elkins, a recent graduate of UNCG’s MFA Writing Program, received one of the most prestigious literary awards in the United States. The Yale Younger Poets Prize, which has been awarded to some of the greatest contemporary poets, including John Ashbery, Robert Hass, and Adrienne Rich, chose Elkins’s debut collection as the recipient of this year’s award. The collection entitled “Blue Yodel” was selected by judge Carl Phillips, who glowingly wrote of her work: “Razor-edged in their intelligence, southern gothic in their sensibility, these poems enter the strangenesses of others and return us to a world at once charged, changed, brutal, and luminous.” Elkins’s manuscript will be published by Yale University Press in 2015, and she’ll receive royalties based on the number of copies sold.

Since 1919, the Yale Younger Poets Prize has been awarded to American writers under forty years old who have not yet published a book of poetry. Past winners have gone on to become Poet Laureates of the United States and have won the Pulitzer Prize and McArthur Fellowships. Needless to say, Elkins finds herself in good company. Currently, she holds a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), which has granted her the time and money to continue experimenting with her craft. Her work has also appeared in some of the most prestigious literary magazines across the world, including the Boston Review, AGNI, and Best.

Elkins is just another example of UNCG’s long list of successful alumni, and I am thrilled to be a part of the same program that helped jumpstart her career. If you are interested in reading some of her poetry, check out her pieces in Guernica and in The Boston Review, linked below. A native of Alabama, Elkins’s poems are inspired by the sights and sounds of southern life, and she strives to balance seemingly opposite themes, such as violence and familial love. I know that all of us at UNCG congratulate Elkins on her achievements, and I cannot wait to see what she accomplishes next!

For her poem, “Blues for the Death of the Sun,” published in Guernica: http://www.guernicamag.com/poetry/elkins_3_15_12/

For “Reverse: A Lynching,” published in The Boston Review: http://www.bostonreview.net/poetry/ansel-elkins-reverse-a-lynching