ASU professor Dr. Safiya Sinclair awarded Guggenheim Fellowship

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ASU Professor, Dr. Safiya Sinclair received the Guggenheim Fellowship based on career achievements and an “exceptional promise.”

The fellowship includes a stipend which will go toward her new poetry project titled, “Planet Dread.”

Her previous book, “How to Say Babylon” has won a National Book Critics Circle Award.

Dr. Safiya Sinclair joined “Arizona Horizon” to discuss the latest details about her new project.

She has put in time and dedication in this piece and just to see everything come together is a reward. 

“It feels surreal but also feels very gratifying and wonderful to have been putting in the hard work since I was really a teenager in Jamaica and to see some of these things come to fruition,” said Sinclair. 

Literature comes from a very deep and personal level which can be a little intimidating for writers. 

“It’s terrifying and also rewarding when you know sharing these very vulnerable particularities of your life. The hope is that it reaches the reader that needs it the most and that even though it is something that is really particular to myself and my own upbringing that it has enough universality that it will connect with readers and I think it has,” said Sinclair. 

This project geared toward the climate crisis in Jamaica includes rising sea levels and the coastline eroding. 

“This is a project that I was awarded the Guggenheim to work on, it’s not written yet. Right now it is in the beginning stages. I’ve written some of the poems for it…half the book is thinking about the climate crisis..,” said Sinclair. 

Sinclair hopes to change people’s perspective of what poetry is really about and look at the whole picture differently. 

“I want to change a lot of the ideas people have about poetry, you know that sometimes I think it’s the way you first encounter poetry in high school or the way it’s taught as if it’s a math problem you need to solve really turns a lot of people off of poetry… poetry is a thing we turn to in times of crisis, turn to it when you’re in love…poetry really is one of the most universal forms of communication…,” said Sinclair. 

Safiya Sinclair, PhD., Author and Associate Professor, Department of English, ASU

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