The prestigious Kessler Award is an annual lectureship given to a scholar who has produced a substantive body of work and has had a significant influence on the field of GLBTQ Studies. The 2013 awardee is prominent poet, essayist, and educator Cheryl Clarke, long time Dean of Students at Rutgers University and founding director of the Office of Diverse Community Affairs and Lesbian/Gay Concerns (renamed Office of Social Justice Education and LGBT Communities).The Kessler Awards ceremony will include a lecture by the recipient, as well as keynotes given by distinguished guest speakers Steven G. Fullwood and Elizabeth Lorde-Rollins.
Cheryl Clarke is the author of four books of poetry: Narratives: Poems In The Tradition Of Black Women (1982), Living As A Lesbian (1986), Humid Pitch (1989), and Experimental Love (1993). She served as a member of the editorial collective of Conditions, a feminist literary journal with an emphasis on writing by lesbians, from 1981-1990. Her book, After Mecca: Women Poets and the Black Arts Movement was published by Rutgers University Press in January 2005. The Days of Good Looks: Prose and Poetry, 1980-2005 was published by Carroll and Graf in 2006. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications since 1981, most recently in the summer 2010 issue of Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society and an article on literature and social justice in the forthcoming Handbook on Social Justice (Reisch, ed.) from Routledge (2013), among many others. Since 2009, she has been the Dean of Students for the Livingston Campus, Rutgers University. Prior to this position, she was the founding Director of the Office of Diverse Community Affairs and Lesbian/Gay Concerns (1992-2005), which became the Office of Social Justice Education and LGBT Communities (2005) and had specific responsibilities for LGBTQ students, diversity awareness education, and accommodations for students with disabilities (1992-2002). Dean Clarke formerly coordinated the university-wide Committee to Advance Our Common Purposes (2006-2012) and the New Brunswick-wide Bias Prevention Education Committee (1992-2012). She has also taught courses on contemporary black women's writing, the black freedom movement, and queer black writers in the age of AIDS. She received her B.A. from Howard University and her M.A. and Ph.D. in English from Rutgers. She is completing a manuscript of poetry entitled By My Precise Haircut.