The Age of Phillis, my latest (and fifth) poetry project, imagines the life and times of Phillis Wheatley (Peters), the 18th-century African American woman to publish a book of poetry.

Fiction Writer

My first novel project, The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois, is both a coming-of-age novel and a multi-generational saga. At the heart of the story is Ailey Garfield, a young black woman from a Georgia family of multi-racial ancestors.


The Tale of Color is my first nonfiction project, which charts personal, racial, and historical journeys.  An essay from this project appears in The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race (Scribner, 2016), edited by Jesmyn Ward.

Photograph of Honoree

About me

For over twenty years, I’ve been lifting my voice on issues of black culture, racism, American history, and gender through the medium of writing.

I’m the author of four critically acclaimed books of poetry, The Gospel of Barbecue (Kent State, 2000), Outlandish Blues (Wesleyan, 2003), Red Clay Suite (Southern Illinois, 2007), and The Glory Gets (Wesleyan, 2015). My individual poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Gettysburg Review, Iowa Review, Prairie Schooner, and Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetry, among many others.  For my poetry, I’ve won fellowships from the American Antiquarian Society, the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rona Jaffe Foundation, the Vermont Studio Center, and the Witter Bynner Foundation through the Library of Congress. Just recently, I was honored with the 2018 Harper Lee Award for Literary Distinction, a lifetime achievement award.

A prose writer as well, my essays and fiction stories have appeared in Black Renaissance Noire, Callaloo, Common-Place: The Interactive Journal of Early American Life, Indiana Review, JENda: A Journal of Cultural and African Studies, The Kenyon Review Online, New England Review, StoryQuarterly, The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks on Race (Scribner 2016), and Virginia Quarterly Review. For my fiction, I’ve won the Emerging Fiction Fellowship from the Aspen Summer Words Conference, the Tennessee Williams’ Scholarship in Fiction from the Sewanee Writers Conference, and the Goodheart Prize for Fiction from Shenandoah: The Washington and Lee University Review. A short story of mine was shortlisted for Best American Short Story, and I earned Honorable Mention for the Zoetrope: All-Story prize in fiction. And my blog, PhillisRemastered, has gathered over a quarter of a million hits.

I’ve read my work at universities, conferences, and in communities across the country, including the Library of Congress. A native southerner, I’ve lived on the prairie since 2002, where I’m Full Professor of English at the University of Oklahoma.



Honorée was awarded the Harper Lee Award for Literary Distinction for an Alabama writer. This is a lifetime achievement award. The award ceremony took place on April 19, 2018  in Monroeville, Alabama, birthplace of Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird.

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This week, when I read the accusations against Harvey Weinstein, I wished I could say I was shocked, but I’m not. The accusations against him are so familiar to me. I recognize my experiences along the same spectrum, in different professional arenas, particularly as a writer, though in my case, I was the victim of […]

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In one week, our President has attacked #TakeAKnee protesters and ignored the crisis in Puerto Rico. Quiet as it’s kept, both situations involve the dismissal of black folks as un-American.

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“Son of a bitch” has obvious, gendered implications as well. In fact, the insult is less about the son and more about the mother who established lineage. The mother must the original animal to create another animal.

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