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





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.

In his introduction to Rickey Laurentiis’ astonishing collection, Boy with Thorn, Terrance Hayes writes, “This poetry is fluid and assured. It integrates interior and exterior worlds, demotic and eccentric idioms, swagger and humility.” Boy with Thorn (Pitt Poetry Series, 2015) won  the Cave Canem Poetry Prize and the Levis Reading Prize, and was 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.

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 in Pittsburgh, PA.



Open and right-click to download