Rickey Laurentiis receives 2016 Levis Reading Prize for poetry collection ‘Boy with Thorn’

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Rickey Laurentiis is the winner of the 2016 Levis Reading Prize awarded by the Department of English and its MFA in Creative Writing program at Virginia Commonwealth University for his first poetry collection, “Boy with Thorn” (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015).

The Levis Prize is awarded annually in the name of the late Larry Levis for the best first or second book of poetry published in the previous calendar year. Laurentiis will receive an award of $5,000 and read from his prize-winning work at 7 p.m., on Oct. 11 in the Cabell Library Lecture Hall (room 303).

Rickey Laurentiis
Rickey Laurentiis

Rickey Laurentiis was raised in New Orleans, and now resides in Brooklyn, New York. His poems have been published widely in the Boston Review, Callaloo, The Kenyon Review, The New Republic, The New York Times, Oxford American, and elsewhere. He has been the recipient of numerous honors, among them a Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Atlantic Center for the Arts, and the Civitella Ranieri Foundation in Italy. In 2016, he traveled to Palestine as part of the Palestine Festival of Literature.

Boy with Thorn” was selected by poet Terrance Hayes for the 2014 Cave Canem Poetry Prize and was a finalist for a 2016 Lambda Literary Award and the Thom Gunn Award from the Publishing Triangle.

Laurentiis earned his MFA in Creative Writing from Washington University in St. Louis, and has taught at Columbia University and Sarah Lawrence College, in addition to working with youth in Harlem.

Sponsors for the Levis Reading Prize include the VCU Department of English, Friends of the VCU Libraries, VCU Libraries, Barnes & Noble@VCU and the VCU College of Humanities and Sciences, with additional funding provided by the family of Larry Levis. The prize honors the memory of poet Larry Levis who served on the creative writing faculty at VCU at the time of his death in 1996.

For further information about the Levis Reading Prize, see http://english.vcu.edu/mfa/levis/, call 804.828.1329, or contact Rachael Taylor Hägglund, Levis Coordinator: taylorrg4@vcu.edu, or Gregory Donovan, Director of the Levis Reading Prize: gdonovan@vcu.edu.