Library, Universities Name Finalists for Maya Angelou Book Award

Thursday, August 24, 2023

The Maya Angelou Book Award reading committee has selected five finalists for the third annual national award, which is presented by the Kansas City Public Library, the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and five other Missouri universities. 

The finalists, chosen from a field of more than 100 submissions: 

  • Buffalo Girl by Jessica Q. Stark, which explores the immigration of Stark’s mother to the United States from Vietnam in hybrid poems, inspired by the Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale. 
  • The Kingdom of Surfaces by Sally Wen Mao, which uses art and history to frame a conversation on beauty, commodification, and violence. The collection’s title poem is set in a surreal version of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s 2015 exhibit China: Through the Looking Glass. 
  • So to Speak by Terrance Hayes, a collection from the National Book Award-winning poet that explores how we see ourselves and our world, mapping the strange and lyrical grammar of thinking and feeling. 

The winner will be announced at the annual Writers for Readers event Thursday, October 5, 2023, at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. The recipient receives $10,000 and conducts a book tour of the participating universities. 

Named for acclaimed, Missouri-born memoirist, poet, and civil rights activist Maya Angelou, the prize celebrates contemporary writers whose work demonstrates their commitment to social justice. It alternates annually between poetry and fiction, going this year to the author of a work of poetry. 

The award was established in 2020 by the Kansas City Public Library, UMKC, the University of Missouri-Columbia, Missouri State University, and Northwest Missouri State, Truman State, and Southeast Missouri State universities.

About the Maya Angelou Book Award 
Buy a Ticket to Writers for Readers event on 10/5