Rice University English professor and acclaimed author Kiese Laymon has been awarded a MacArthur Fellowship, the prestigious honor popularly known as the “genius grant.”

A Black Southern writer from Jackson, Mississippi, Laymon’s work bears witness to the forms of violence that mark the Black experience. His writing across multiple forms — including essays, memoirs and fiction — is rooted in his perspective as a Black Southern man.

“I'm not big into awards and recognition, but this one feels special,” Laymon said of the fellowship. “Revision and Mississippi did this. I'm just thankful. Some really incredible people thought my work was OK. That's a big deal to me.”

Laymon has taught creative writing at Rice since he joined the School of Humanities in January as the Libbie Shearn Moody Professor of Creative Writing and English.

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