Kiki Petrosino / 2021 UNT Rilke Prize | Department of English
July 31, 2020

Kiki Petrosino / 2021 UNT Rilke Prize

2021 UNT Rilke Prize

Kiki Petrosino

White Blood: A Lyric of Virginia

Kiki Petrosino's White Blood: A Lyric of Virginia (Sarabande Books) has won the 2021 UNT Rilke Prize. The $10,000 prize recognizes a book written by a mid-career poet and published in the preceding year that demonstrates exceptional artistry and vision. Our first UNT Rilke Prize winner was named in 2011 and we are thrilled to announce Petrosino as our 10th anniversary recipient. Conditions permitting, Petrosino will visit UNT in Fall 2021.

"[T]he dead are always saying / what they always say: // Write about me," Kiki Petrosino tells us in "Instructions for Time Travel," a poem that gives voice to the past, a task which animates her ambitious collection White Blood. With her fourth book, the poet explores what it means to be Black in America and to search for one's ancestors who simultaneously call out to be heard and who elude representation, "as if drifting, as if curling tongues of snow." Gathering together archival research, genetic science, and imagination, Petrosino turns to a variety of forms--villanelles, a heroic crown, erasure--to sing a fragmented history, one that skillfully connects both the reader and the poet to a "time before remembrance."

Click here for more information about the UNT Rilke Prize.