Alison C. Rollins (MS '17) has been selected to receive a 2018 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer's Award, which is given annually to six women writers who demonstrate excellence and promise in the early stages of their careers. Celebrating its 24th year, the Rona Jaffe Awards have helped many women build successful writing careers by offering encouragement and financial support at a critical time. The Awards are $30,000 each and will be presented to the six recipients on September 13 in New York City.
Rollins is completing her first collection of poems, Library of Small Catastrophes, to be published by Copper Canyon Press in 2019. She is a librarian for the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and her work both supports and informs her poetry. She says, "In my book, I utilize the concept of the library archive to offer a lyric history of the ways in which human beings struggle to process loss.” Her nominator writes, “Alison’s poems are rich and textured, displaying her full depth of knowledge and heart, with carefully assembled facts and anecdotes, roving masterfully across topics and catalogues, with poems in cheeky dialogue with poets and philosophers and the Dewey decimal system, her scope sweeping across American history, family tragedy, all while making poignant examinations of womanhood, and tackling issues like slavery, Blackness, and racism in America." Rollins is also working on a second collection, which explores Afro-futurism together with current philosophical examinations of time. She received her bachelor's degree from Howard University and her MS/LIS degree from the University of Illinois. Her poems have appeared in Poetry, American Poetry Review, Crazyhorse, and The Offing, among others. She is a recipient of a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg fellowship and has been awarded support from the Cave Canem Foundation, Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop, and Bread Loaf Writers' Conference. She will use her Writer's Award to focus more on her writing and travel to Mexico, Argentina, and Russia for further research on these projects. She lives in Chicago.
The Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Awards program was established in 1995 by celebrated novelist Rona Jaffe (1931-2005). It is the only national literary awards program of its kind dedicated to supporting women writers exclusively. Since the program began, the Foundation has awarded more than $2.5 million to emergent women writers.