Justin Phillip Reed is the winner of the 2018 National Book Award in Poetry for Indecency (Coffee House Press, 2018), which Library Journal called, “one of a kind brilliant.” The National Book Award poetry jury celebrated the book as “political and personal, tender, daring, and insightful,” and Vox praised it as “an unflinching exploration of power, race, sexuality, gender, the personal and the political.” Reed is also the author of the chapbook A History of Flamboyance (YesYes Books, 2016). His poetry appears in African American Review, Best American Essays, Callaloo, The Kenyon Review, Obsidian, and elsewhere.
Poets & Writers included him in their annual look at debut poets, and asked Reed for advice he would give other poets. He responded, “Be patient and respect your instincts. Write the book you never expected to have in you. Contest judges and publishers, if they are right for you, can wait for that. Take time away from your manuscript and return with renewed energy. Recruit a few invested readers of your work—not many—and hear their feedback. Remember that you’re creating an artwork with which you will, fortunately, have to live.”
Born and raised in South Carolina, Reed was a three-time high school expellee and an ex-college dropout. He went on to receive his BA in creative writing at Tusculum College and his MFA in poetry at Washington University in St. Louis, where he served as Junior Writer-in-Residence. He has received fellowships from the Cave Canem Foundation, the Conversation Literary Festival, and the Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis. He currently lives and works in St. Louis.
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