Rickey Laurentiis

I think my duty is pitched toward the past (the dead) and toward the future (the not-yet-born). Paradoxically, this means I must be explicitly, deeply, critically moored to the present.
 
 

whiting award

Lannan Foundation Fellow

Cave Canem Poetry Prize

 

 
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Whether in praise songs, appraisals or meditations, the poems of Boy with Thorn embody an ardent grace. Their accomplished structures house a fearless sensitivity. Laurentiis fills history with his ‘crucial blood,’ his ‘stubbornness,’ his ‘American tongue’; and history, in return, fills him with crucial muses (from Auden to Hayden), stubborn ghosts (such as Emmett Till), and manifold expressions of culture (southern, sexual, spiritual). The result is an extraordinary, and ultimately, irreducible debut.
— Terrance Hayes
Rickey Laurentiis’s debut collection is a stunning achievement. Fearless in its intimacy, Boy With Thorn looks at America’s history of violence against the black body, at desire and sexuality, and at the racial tensions in art all through a painfully personal lens.
Buzzfeed

Whiting Award winner Rickey Laurentiis is the author of Boy with Thorn (Pitt Poetry Series, 2015), winner of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize and the Levis Reading Prize, and a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award and the Kate Tufts Discovery award. It was named one of the top ten debuts of 2015 by Poets & Writers Magazine and a top 16 best poetry books by Buzzfeed, among other distinctions. Individual poems have appeared widely, including Boston Review, Feminist Studies, The Kenyon Review, The Los Angeles Review of Books, New Republic, The New York Times, and Poetry; have been anthologized in Extraordinary Rendition: (American) Writers Speak of Palestine, Bettering American Poetry, and Prospect.3's art catalogue Notes for Now. His poems have been translated into Arabic, Spanish and Ukrainian.

Laurentiis is the inaugural fellow in Creative Writing at the Center for African-American Poetry and Poetics, as well as a Lannan Fellow.

In a conversation with poet Solmaz Sharif, when asked what he perceived as his “duty” as a poet, Laurentiis said, “I think my duty is pitched toward the past (the dead) and toward the future (the not-yet-born). Paradoxically, this means I must be explicitly, deeply, critically moored to the present. I think of a description of the poem you often mention, but I forget the attribution: about poems functioning as either “diagnostic” or “curative.” I find I lean toward the former, which means to face and acknowledge all of the past, brutal or otherwise. And I lean this way towards hoping, in a future, that my poems, however contaminated they may very well be, may approach the latter. “

Laurentiis was raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, He received his MFA in Writing from Washington University in St Louis, where he was a Chancellor's Graduate Fellow, and his Bachelors in Liberal Arts from Sarah Lawrence College, where he read literature and queer theory. He lives Pittsburgh, PA.

 

 

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