Stanford lecturer earns fellowship from National Endowment for the Arts

This week, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded CHARIF SHANAHAN, a Jones lecturer in the English Department at Stanford, with a creative writing fellowship.

Charif Shanahan
Charif Shanahan. (Photo credit: Rachel Eliza Griffiths)

Shanahan, a former Wallace Stegner fellow, was one of 35 poets who received the 2019 Creative Writing Fellowship, according to the National Endowment for the Arts.

The annual fellowship, which gives $25,000 to each of the recipients, alternates between supporting poetry and prose each year and is designed to give writers time and space needed to create. Fellows are selected through a highly competitive, anonymous process and are judged on the artistic excellence of their work samples.

Shanahan was selected from nearly 1,700 eligible applicants. He is the author of Into Each Room We Enter without Knowing (2017), which won the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award and was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry and the Publishing Triangle’s Thom Gunn Award. In the book, Shanahan, who is queer and mixed-race, reflects on the challenges of his identity and explores what it means to be human in today’s divided world.

“I’m deeply honored by this recognition and grateful to the National Endowment for the Arts and to the selection committee for this life-changing encouragement,” Shanahan said.

Shanahan’s poems have appeared in The New Republic, The New York Times Magazine, American Poetry Review and Poetry Magazine, among other publications. His poems were also featured in a 2018 anthology, American Journal: Fifty Poems for Our Time, edited by U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith, and will be included in a 2019 anthology, Seeding the Future of African American Poetry.

Born and raised in the Bronx neighborhood of New York City, Shanahan earned a bachelor’s from Princeton University and a master’s from Dartmouth College, both in comparative literature. He also holds a master’s in fine arts degree in poetry from New York University.

Shanahan’s work has been recognized by the Academy of American Poets, the Cave Canem Foundation, the Fulbright Program, the Frost Place, the Millay Colony for the Arts and the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation.

Since 1967, the National Endowment for the Arts has awarded more than 3,500 creative writing fellowships worth over $54 million. Many American recipients of the National Book Award, National Book Critics Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry and Fiction were recipients of NEA fellowships early in their careers, according to the agency.