NCAS Alumnus Saeed Jones Named a Finalist for the 2014 National Book Critics Circle Award

Lawrence Lerner

Rutgers University–Newark alumnus Saeed Jones has been named one of five finalists for the prestigious National Book Critics Circle Award for his latest collection of poetry Prelude to Bruise (Coffee House Press, 2014).

Jones, who graduated from RU-N’s nationally acclaimed MFA in Creative Writing Program in 2010, examines the intersection of race, sexual orientation and geography in his new book. Many of his poems are set in the American South, where finding a place to live and love can be difficult for gay black youth.

Prelude to Bruise has garnered national attention. NPR called it "visceral and affecting"; Publishers Weekly declared "a bold new voice has announced itself"; and Lambda Literary called it "beautiful, haunting and heartbreaking." The book also made several “Best of 2014” lists, including NPR’s and Time Out New York’s. Jones has also been interviewed by PBS Newshour and Time magazine, among others.

Jones was born in Memphis, Tenn., and raised in Lewisville, Tex. He earned his bachelor’s degree at Western Kentucky University, where he won the Jim Wayne Miller Award for Poetry, before moving on to RU-N. 

A 2011 Pushcart Prize Nominee, Jones work has appeared in Hayden's Ferry ReviewJubilatQuarterly WestThe Collagist and West Branch & Blackbird. His chapbook When the Only Light Is Fire is available from Sibling Rivalry Press. He is also a regular contributor to and Lambda Literary, and is LGBT editor at Buzzfeed and blogs regularly here.

Each year, the National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) selects 30 finalists in six categories: autobiography, biography, criticism, fiction, general nonfiction and poetry. The NBCC awards, founded in 1974 and considered among the most prestigious in American letters, are the sole prizes bestowed by a jury of working critics and book-review editors. The 2014 prizes will be presented on March 12 at The New School, in New York City. The event is free and open to the public.


See all of the 2014 National Book Critics Circle nominees here.