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NEA awards four brothers in verse.

This past year marks the first time in 18 years that four African American male writers were awarded literary fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in the same year. More significantly, the 2004 class of Cyrus Cassells, Terrance Hayes, Tyehimba Jess and Kevin Young are all poets. This year heralds the first time that more than two black male poets received NEA fellowships in the same year since 1981.

That 1981 class of African American NEA fellowship winners included poets Amiri Baraka, Steve Cannon, Wanda Coleman, Calvin Forbes, June Jordan, Bob Kaufman, Yusef Komunyakaa, and Audre Lorde, and poet/novelist/playwright Mexis De Veaux.

Ironically, Cassells was a member of the 1986 group, along with poets Cecil Giscombe, and the late Essex Hemphill.

(Novelists Edward P. Jones, recipient of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for The Known World, Jamaica Kincaid and Nubia Kai Salaam completed 1986's exceptional class of African American NEA fellows.)

Cassells, the elder of the 2004 group, is the author of four books of poetry, most recently More Than Peace and Cypresses (Copper Canyon Press, 2004). He is the recipient of the William Carlos Williams Award, a Lambda Book Award and a Pushcart Prize among numerous other awards. He teaches at Southwest Texas State University.

Terrance Hayes is the author of Hip Logic (Penguin, 2002), which was a 2001 National Poetry Series winner, Muscular Music (Tia Chucha Press, 1999), and the forthcoming Wind in a Box (Penguin, 2005). He teaches poetry courses at Carnegie Mellon University.

Tyehimba Jess, a recent graduate of New York University's MFA program, is a winner of the 2004 National Poetry Series. Leadbelly, his first full-length book of poems, will be published by Verse Press in the fall of 2005.

Kevin Young is the author of four books of poetry, including the forthcoming Black Maria, and editor of two anthologies. He is currently Ruth Lilly Professor of Poetry at Indiana University.

Quraysh Ali Lansana is BIBR's poetry editor. He is director of the Gwendolyn Brooks Center of Black Literature and Creative Writing at Chicago State University.
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Title Annotation:National Endowment for the Arts; Cyrus Cassells; Terrance Hayes; Tyehimba Jess; Kevin Young
Author:Lansana, Quraysh Ali
Publication:Black Issues Book Review
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2005
Words:345
Previous Article:Black Maria.
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