On Wednesday, March 26, the URI community was delighted to welcome Afaa Michael Weaver and to celebrate his recent award of the Kingsley Tufts prize. The Kingsley Tufts is “the world’s largest monetary prize for a single collection of poetry,” and “was created to both honor the poet and provide the resources that allow artists to continue working towards the pinnacle of their craft” (from the CGU site). He won for his book, The Government of Nature, from which he read at URI.
The room was overflowing with students, who sat on the floor and crowded together to hear Weaver read and then tell stories of his life in Taiwan and the trajectory of his writing career. He explained how came to write about his troubled childhood, for example, and how his life as a Professor is in conflict with his working class childhood. Weaver spoke of his life as a poet (this is his 12th collection), his past as a factory worker, the experience of living in Taiwan for a year and learning Mandarin, and how his meditation practice influences his writing. He was especially generous in responding to students and engaging the community in conversation around the work.
A Professor and the Alumnae Endowed Chair at Simmons College, Weaver has also been awarded the NEA, a Pushcart Prize, a Fulbright, and a Pew Fellowship, among other honors. He read at URI as part of the Read/Write series, coordinated by Professors Peter Covino and Mary Cappello. We’re grateful for his visit and send our congratulations for his most recent well-deserved recognition!