Feature Stories Campus Events All Stories

W&L Alumna Named Finalist for National Book Award

Back in April we blogged about the poetry of Washington and Lee alumna Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon of the Class of 1993. Now we can report that Lyrae has just been named a finalist for the National Book Award in Poetry for Open Interval, her latest book of poems. On the National Book Foundation Web site, Open Interval is described this way:Open interval is a mathematical term referring to a line that has no endpoints. Drawing upon intersections of astronomy and mathematics, history, literature, and lived experience, the poems in Open Interval locate the self in the interval between body and name. Like the Romare Bearden paintings she writes about in Open Interval, Van Clief-Stefanon’s work is colorful, sometimes playful, grounded in reality, yet other-worldly at the same time.” Lyrae is an assistant professor of English at Cornell University. Black Swan, her 2002 collection, won the 2001 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. She was one of 20 writers featured in the 2005 Poetry Society of America’s Festival of New American Poets and was a semi-finalist in the “Discovery”/The Nation Contest in 1999 and 2001. She is the coauthor, with Elizabeth Alexander, of the chapbook Poems in Conversation and a Conversation. Her poems have appeared in African American Review, Callaloo, Crab Orchard Review, Rattapallax, Shenandoah: The Washington and Lee University Review, and in several anthologies, including Bum Rush the Page and Role Call. You can listen below to two audio clips from Cornell. The first is from a presentation during which Lyrae read from poems in Open Interval while the second is an interview from March, when Lyrae was one of three members of Cornell’s Creative Writing faculty to discuss their work.

Lyrae Van Clief-Stefano reads from her work.

An interview featuring Lyrae Van Clief-Stefano

If you know any W&L alumni who would be great profile subjects, tell us about them! Nominate them for a web profile.