Poetry, UCP News

Phoenix Poets Series to Relaunch in 2023 with Srikanth Reddy as Editor, Rosa Alcalá, Douglas Kearney, and Katie Peterson as Consulting Editors

Poet and literary scholar Srikanth Reddy has been appointed the new editor of the University of Chicago Press’s Phoenix Poets series, making him the first publicly named editor of the series since the 1990s. Reddy will serve with three consulting editors: poets Rosa Alcalá, Douglas Kearney, and Katie Peterson.  Launching in 2023 with an open submission process, an emerging poet’s prize, and a fresh editorial vision, the renovated Phoenix Poets series inaugurates a new era in contemporary poetry publishing at Chicago.

Clockwise from top left: Srikanth Reddy (photo by Kaitlyn Shea), Katie Peterson (photo by Young Suh), Douglas Kearney (photo by Bao Phi), and Rosa Alcalá (photo by Margarita Mejía)

Since its founding in 1983, the Phoenix Poets series has published contemporary poets with a keen awareness of the history and possibilities of poetry. Books in the series have won major accolades, including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the National Book Award, the Rome Prize in Literature, the William Carlos Williams Award, and the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize. Under its new editorship, the series will build upon this distinguished history by embracing the new literary energies of the present, expanding its audience to include a more diverse reading public, and promoting emerging literary voices nationally and globally.

Until now, the series has been closed to unsolicited submissions, and books in the series have been recruited by an anonymous editorial board of distinguished American poets. Under the incoming editors, Phoenix Poets is renewing its literary commitment to risk and restlessness through a new program of editorial initiatives. An open reading period for manuscripts will be introduced to augment the curatorial tradition of editorial solicitation. Beginning in late 2021, one book by an author who has published no more than two volumes of poetry will be selected for publication as the recipient of the “Phoenix Emerging Poet Book Prize.” Three more books will be published annually through the open submission process or by invitation. Additionally, Phoenix Poets will publish one book of poetry in translation every second year. The editors invite poets who extend the conceptual, formal, and affective dimensions of the art to submit their manuscripts to the series’ open reading period in November 2021.

The current version of Phoenix Poets culminates with six vibrant selections: just published are The Missing Mountain: New and Selected Poems by Michael Collier, Blue in Green by Chiyuma Elliott, and Who’s on First?: New and Selected Poems by Lloyd Schwartz. Three final books are forthcoming in Spring 2022. The first titles in the series under Reddy’s editorship will appear in Spring 2023.

“A vigorous poetry series greatly enriches our list and helps us fulfill our cultural mission,” says Chicago’s editorial director Alan Thomas. “For thirty-eight years, Phoenix Poets has published poetry of exceptional quality with remarkable consistency. Both the Press and the series’ outgoing editorial board are delighted that Srikanth Reddy has agreed to take over as editor of Phoenix Poets and that Rosa Alcalá, Douglas Kearney, and Katie Peterson will join him as consulting editors. This an exciting turn in Chicago’s long history of poetry publishing.”

“It is an honor and a thrill to collaborate with literary artists like Rosa Alcalá, Douglas Kearney, and Katie Peterson to imagine this new chapter in the story of Phoenix Poets,” says incoming editor Srikanth Reddy. “With an open submissions process, a commitment to literary translation, and a book award for early-career poets, we look forward to celebrating new literary futures, ancient cultural resources, and emerging reading publics for our time.”

More information about the series and the open submission period is available on the series page.

Srikanth Reddy’slatest book of poetry, Underworld Lit (Wave Books, 2020), was a finalist for the Griffin International Poetry Prize, the T.S. Eliot Four Quartets Prize, and a Times Literary Supplement “Book of the Year” for 2020. His poetry and criticism have appeared in Harper’s, the Guardian (UK), the New York TimesPoetry, and numerous other venues. The recipient of fellowships from the Creative Capital Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts, he is a professor of English and creative writing at the University of Chicago. 

Rosa Alcalá is the author of three books of poetry, most recently MyOTHER TONGUE (Futurepoem, 2017). Alcalá’s poems have appeared in The Nation and American Poetry Review, among other journals, and are included in numerous anthologies, such as Best American Poetry (Scribner 2019 & 2021); American Poets in the 21st Century: Poetics of Social Engagement, edited by Claudia Rankine and Michael Dowdy (Wesleyan UP, 2018); and The Poem Is You: 60 Contemporary American Poems and How to Read Them by Stephanie Burt (Harvard UP, 2016). The recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Translation Fellowship, and runner-up for a PEN Translation Award, she is the editor and co-translator of New & Selected Poems of Cecilia Vicuña (Kelsey Street Press, 2018). She is currently chair of the Department of Creative Writing and Bilingual MFA Program at the University of Texas at El Paso.  

Douglas Kearney has published seven books, including Sho (Wave Books, 2021), longlisted for the National Book Award; the award-winning poetry collection Buck Studies (Fence Books, 2016); libretti, Someone Took They Tongues. (Subito, 2016); and criticism, Mess and Mess and (Noemi Press, 2015).) WIRE magazine calls Fodder, a live album featuring Kearney and frequent collaborator, Val-Inc., “brilliant.” Kearney is the 2021 recipient of OPERA America’s Campbell Opera Librettist Prize, created and funded by librettist/lyricist Mark Campbell. A Whiting Writer’s and Foundation for Contemporary Arts Cy Twombly awardee with residencies/fellowships from Cave Canem, the Rauschenberg Foundation, and others, Kearney is a McKnight Presidential Fellow and associate professor of creative writing/English at the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities. Born in Brooklyn, raised in Altadena, California, he lives in St. Paul with his family.  

Katie Peterson is the author of five collections of poetry, including Life in a Field (2021) and A Piece of Good News (2019). Her 2013 collection, The Accounts, was published in the Phoenix Poets series, and won the Rilke Prize from the University of North Texas. She has received fellowships from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Bread Loaf, the Foundation for Contemporary Art, and the Radcliffe Institute. She has work published or forthcoming in the Harvard Review, the New York Review of BooksPoetry, and many other magazines. Her essays and criticism have been published in the Boston Review, the Chicago Tribune, and Public Books. Her work has been translated into French, Korean, and Portuguese. She is professor of English and a Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of California at Davis where she directs the MFA program in creative writing.