Stanford lecturer named a 2014 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award winner

Solmaz Sharif
Solmaz Sharif

Poet SOLMAZ SHARIF, a current Jones Lecturer in Stanford’s Creative Writing Program, and a former Wallace Stegner Fellow, has received a 2014 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award. The award is given annually to six women writers who demonstrate exceptional talent in the early stages of their careers. Sharif will receive the $30,000 award on Sept. 18 in New York City.

“Receiving the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award is a public declaration of faith, so rare for a young poet such as myself,” said Sharif, who also recently won a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship.

Born in Istanbul to Iranian parents, Sharif is currently finishing her first collection of poems, Look, a poetic rewriting of the Department of Defense’s Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms. She intends to use her award to begin a longer documentary lyric about revolution.

“I’m honored to not only have funds to continue my research into language around warfare and to travel to Iran to find contemporary poets to translate, but also to join a family of awardees that include many writers I admire,” Sharif added.

Sharif holds degrees from New York University and the University of California, Berkeley, where she studied and taught in the Poetry of the People program, which was founded by the late poet June Jordan. Sharif’s work has appeared in The Kenyon Review, Poetry, jubilat, Black Warrior Review and Gulf Coast, among others.

The late novelist Rona Jaffe established the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Awards program in 1995 to help women establish successful writing careers by offering encouragement and financial support. Since the program began, the foundation has awarded nearly $2 million to emergent women writers.


BY TANU WAKEFIELD, communications assistant for the Stanford Humanities Center