Illinois State University doctoral student Jonah Mixon-Webster has been awarded a coveted 2020 Windham-Campbell Prize.
One of only eight winners from across the globe, Mixon-Webster is a candidate for a Ph.D. in creative writing at Illinois State’s Department of English. His debut poetry collection Stereo(TYPE) focuses on the ongoing water crisis in his hometown of Flint, Michigan, and systemic racism within the architecture of the current collective crisis. The collection was also awarded the Sawtooth Poetry Prize and the prestigious PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award for Poetry.
“This prize represents the immanent gifts and responsibilities of the craft of poetry,” said Mixon-Webster, who dedicated the award to the ongoing resistance in Flint, Michigan. “If there is ever a time to use our voices and bodies to form against oppression, it is now.”
Honoring a handful of talented writers of fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and drama from around the globe, the $165,000 Donald Windham-Sandy M. Campbell Literature Prizes at Yale University call attention to literary achievement and provides writers with the opportunity to focus on their work independent of financial concerns.
In recognizing Mixon-Webster’s work, the committee called
Stereo(TYPE) “an artful and powerful work of poetic activism.” Infusing oral history, government documentation, photography, and found text, the work tells the story of the continuing struggle in Flint. “Intimate and violent, provocative and tender, mythic and ritualistic, Stereo(TYPE) compels its readers to become witnesses to environmental and social evil, and in so doing, to choose between radical solidarity with Flint—or complicity with those who have enabled the government’s relentless predation and persecution of its people.”
Mixon-Webster is co-leader of the PEN America Detroit Chapter and is a 2019-2020 Writing for Justice Fellow. He is an alumnus of Eastern Michigan University.