Ishion Hutchinson, associate professor of English Language and Literature, was honored March 13 as one of eight winners of the annual Donald Windham-Sandy M.Campbell Literature Prize. The award offers $165,000 prizes in fiction, nonfiction, poetry and drama. Hutchinson, along with poet Kwame Dawes, received the prize for outstanding work in poetry.
“It’s particularly moving to be a recipient this year with my mentor Kwame Dawes, whom I have known now for about 18 years,” Hutchinson said. “I know of no other poet or writer on the planet with Kwame’s work ethic.”
The Windham-Campbell Prize, established at Yale in 2013, is among the richest and most prestigious literary prizes in the world. The prize was established to call attention to literary achievement and provide writers with the opportunity to focus on their work independent of financial concerns.
“Winning the prize means several things to me at once which I can only sum up as an impetus towards harder work,” Hutchinson said. “The purse is sweet, but the lasting intrinsic value connects to the earlier motive force towards harder work.”
Hutchinson was born in Port Antonio, Jamaica. He is the author of two poetry collections: “Far District” and “House of Lords and Commons.” He is the recipient of the National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Joseph Brodsky Rome Prize, the Whiting Writers Award, the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature.
“I am inspired by Kwame Dawes and he has long encouraged me to go beyond what I think I am capable of,” Hutchinson said. “So the prize has taken on a personal dimension due to that.”
Yvette Lisa Ndlovu is a communications assistant for the College of Arts & Sciences.