Roger Reeves, English professor at UT Austin and poet extraordinaire, has won the 2023 Griffin Poetry Prize for his book Best Barbarian. The world’s largest international poetry award for a book written or translated into English, the Griffin comes with $130,000 in prize money. Below is Reeves’ moving acceptance speech, beginning with one of his own beginnings, looking at the bookcases in the New Jersey houses his grandmother once cleaned, and ending with a dedication to Black folks who have had to “secret away their language and desires” for too long.
Reeves has also recently won the 2023 Kingsley Tufts Award and was a finalist for the 2022 National Book Award in Poetry. For more on the Griffin Prize and what it means for Reeves’ work, read the Daily Texan’s coverage of the award. And for more on Reeves and Best Barbarian, check out Life & Letters’ Spring ’23 cover story.