Evie Shockley

Born and raised in Nashville, Evie Shockley received a B.A. from Northwestern University, a J.D. from the University of Michigan, and, after working as an environmental lawyer, her Ph.D. in English from Duke University. Winner of the 2019 Lannan Literary Award in Poetry, she is the author of three books of poetry: semiautomatic (Wesleyan, 2017), which won the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the LA Times Book Prize; the new black (Wesleyan, 2011), winner of the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award in Poetry; and a half-red sea (Carolina Wren Press, 2005). She is also the author of a critical study, Renegade Poetics: Black Aesthetics and Formal Innovation in African American Poetry (Iowa, 2011).

Among Shockley’s honors are the Stephen Henderson Award, the Holmes National Poetry Prize, and fellowships from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and the American Council of Learned Societies. A Cave Canem graduate fellow, Shockley received the 2012 Holmes National Poetry Prize. She was awarded a residency at the Hedgebrook Retreat for Women Writers in 2003. Two of her poems were displayed in the Biko 30/30 exhibit, a commemoration of the life and work of anti-apartheid activist Steven Biko, which toured South Africa in 2007.

Embracing both free verse and formal structures, Shockley straddles the divide between traditional and experimental poetics. Her influences include Gwendolyn Brooks, Lucille Clifton, and Harryette Mullen. Shockley was coeditor of the poetry journal jubilat from 2004 to 2007 and guest editor in August 2018 of Poem-a-Day from the American Academy of Poets. She is a Professor of English at Rutgers University.