Associate Professor Shane McCrae Wins the Arthur Rense Poetry Prize

Jessie Shohfi
March 24, 2023

Associate Professor Shane McCrae has been awarded the Arthur Rense Poetry Prize, a prestigious accolade from the Academy of Arts and Letters, which annually awards $20,000 to an exceptional poet.

The American Academy of Arts and Letters was founded in 1898 as an honor society of the country’s leading architects, artists, composers, and writers. In addition, the Academy seeks to foster and sustain an interest in Literature, Music, and the Fine Arts by administering awards and prizes, exhibiting art and manuscripts, funding performances of new works of musical theater, purchasing artwork for donation to museums across the country, and presenting talks and concerts.

A rotating committee of writers selects winners for the Academy’s awards. This year’s committee members were Amy Hempel (chair), John Guare, Elizabeth Kolbert, Sigrid Nunez, Mona Simpson, Rosanna Warren, and Joy Williams.

"I'm both surprised and grateful I've been awarded the Arthur Rense Poetry Prize, and I only hope I can someday write poems good enough to deserve it," said McCrae.

McCrae will be honored, along with the winners of the various other awards, at the Academy’s annual Ceremonial in May. 

Shane McCrae is the author of Cain Named the Animal (Little Brown, 2022), which was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Collection and nominated for the PEN/Voelcker Award. His other works include Sometimes I Never Suffered (FSG, 2020), In the Language of My Captor (Wesleyan University Press, 2017), which was a finalist for the National Book Award, The Animal Too Big to Kill (Persea Books, 2015), Forgiveness Forgiveness (Factory Hollow Press, 2014), Blood (Noemi Press, 2013), and Mule (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2011), as well as three poetry chapbooks and one nonfiction chapbook. His poems have appeared in the Best American Poetry series, Poetry, The American Poetry Review, Gulf Coast, and other anthologies and journals, and he has been awarded the Lannan Literary Award, a Whiting Writer’s Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and a Pushcart Prize. He received an MFA from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, a JD from Harvard Law School, and an MA in Literary Studies from the University of Iowa.