Koestenbaum ⎯ Poet, Critic, Queer Studies Pioneer ⎯ Receives American Academy of Arts and Letters Award

Distinguished Professor Wayne Koestenbaum (Credit: Soft Skull Press)

Distinguished Professor Wayne Koestenbaum (English, Comparative Literature, French), a poet, scholar, and critic recognized as one of the founders of queer studies, was honored with a 2020 American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature.

The award, which includes a prize of $10,000, recognizes exceptional accomplishment in any genre. Professor Maaza Mengiste of Queens College, author of Beneath the Lion's Gaze and The Shadow King, also received a literature award.

Koestenbaum announced the award by posting a congratulatory message from Soft Skull Press, the publisher of his upcoming book of essays, Figure It Out. “My retweet qualifies as kvelling, I confess,” Koestenbaum wrote.

He is also the author of Ode to Anna Moffo and Other Poems, Rhapsodies of a Repeat Offender, The Milk of Inquiry, Model Homes, Best-Selling Jewish Porn Films, and Blue Stranger with Mosaic Background. His works of criticism include The Queen’s Throat: Opera, Homosexuality, and the Mystery of Desire; Double Talk: The Erotics of Male Literary Collaboration; Jackie Under My Skin: Interpreting an Icon; and My 1980s & Other Essays (2013). He has also published a novel and wrote the libretto for an opera.

In 2019, Yale University’s Beinecke Library acquired Koestenbaum’s literary archive.

“Wayne Koestenbaum is one of the most original and relentlessly obsessed cultural spies writing today,” John Waters has written of Koestenbaum’s work. “His alarmingly focused attention to detail goes beyond lunacy into hilarious and brilliant clarity.”

Submitted on: MAR 26, 2020

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