Every year the University of Arkansas Press together with the Radius of Arab American Writers accepts submissions for the Etel Adnan Poetry Series and awards the $1,000 Etel Adnan Poetry Prize to a first or second book of poetry, in English, by a writer of Arab heritage. Since its founding in 1996 the Radius of Arab American Writers has celebrated and fostered the writings and writers that make up the vibrant and diverse Arab American community; and the University of Arkansas Press has long been committed to publishing diverse kinds of poetry by a diversity of poets. The series editors are Hayan Charara and Fady Joudah, and the prize is named in honor of the world-renowned poet, novelist, essayist, and artist Etel Adnan.

About the Series

Though poets of Arab heritage have been writing in English for more than a century, little attention had been paid to these poets as a community. In 2008 the publication of Inclined to Speak, an anthology of contemporary Arab American poetry edited by Hayan Charara and published by the University of Arkansas Press, brought attention to the diversities and talents of this already established but growing group of poets. Since the anthology’s publication in 2008, many more new poets of Arab heritage have emerged, and their work continues to challenge and reinvent not only the aesthetics they have inherited but also the very notions of what it means to be Arab or Arab American. Hayan Charara and Fady Joudah, themselves celebrated poets, felt the time was ripe for a series that simultaneously valued the larger community to which these new poets belonged, as well as their engagement with new and innovative poetics.

About the Prize

The series editors serve as the judges for the Etel Adnan Poetry Prize. Together, they will select a winning manuscript and write a preface for the book. The University of Arkansas Press, which will publish the book, provides that the author’s work will be produced with all the dedication and expertise they have to offer. This includes professional copyediting by expert poetry editors, design and production by veteran designers who specialize in the typesetting of verse, and production managed by a house with a history of printing first-rate books. Additionally, the Radius of Arab American Writers will award the author a $1,000 prize and widely publicize the winning book. We believe this offers the poet the best possible opportunity to connect with his or her audience via the printed word.

The inaugural winner, in 2017, was Jess Rizkallah, for her collection the magic my body becomes.
The 2018 winner was Peter Twal, for his collection Our Earliest Tattoos.
The 2019 winner was Zaina Alsous for her collection A Theory of Birds.
Jessica Abughattas has been named the winner of the 2020 prize for her forthcoming collection Strip.

About Etel Adnan

Born in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1925, Etel Adnan was educated in the French schools there and later studied philosophy at the Sorbonne in Paris, the University of California Berkeley, and Harvard. She became a painter during the Algerian War of Independence and later, during the war in Vietnam, participated in the poets’ movement against the war, becoming, in her own words, “an American poet.” From 1972 until 1976, she lived in Beirut and worked as a cultural editor for two newspapers. Her novel Sitt Marie-Rose, published in 1977, has since been translated into numerous languages and is considered a classic of war literature. In 1977 she established her residence in Sausalito, California, with frequent stays in Paris.

Adnan has published nearly twenty books in English, including The Arab Apocalypse, regarded as “one of the most important works of literature” after the Lebanese Civil War; In the Heart of the Heart of Another Country, “a mix of prose, poetry, political insight, philosophic speculation, and historical remembrance honed to mineral perfection”; and Sea and Fog, winner of the Lambda Literary Award. Her poetry and prose has been recognized internationally and includes the France-Pays Arabes Award, the California Book Award, the PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Literary Award, the Arab American Book Award, and a lifetime achievement award from the Radius of Arab American Writers. In 2014, she was named a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres by the French government. The same year, a collection of her paintings and tapestries were exhibited as a part of the Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art. MELUS, the journal of the Society for the Study of the Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States, called Adnan “arguably the most celebrated and accomplished Arab American author writing today.”

She lives in Paris with her partner the painter and sculptor Simone Fattal. More about Adnan is available at www.eteladnan.com.

About the Editors

Hayan Charara is the author of three poetry collections, most recently Something Sinister (2016). He edited Inclined to Speak (2008), an anthology of contemporary Arab American poetry, and his children’s book, The Three Lucys (2016), won the New Voices Award Honor.



Fady Joudah is the author of three poetry collections and several volumes of translations from the Arabic. He has received several national and international awards for his work, including the Yale Series of Younger Poets prize and the Griffin Poetry Prize.



For more information on application requirements and instructions, visit our submissions manager.