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MFA Poetry Alum Wins Prestigious Writing Prize

Memorial Belltower

Poet Ina Cariño, who earned their Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from NC State in 2019, is one of 10 recipients of a 2022 Whiting Award, one of the largest and most prestigious awards given to emerging writers in the United States.

Once a year, the Whiting Foundation presents $50,000 prizes to writers of fiction, nonfiction, poetry and drama. Whiting Awards recognize early-career achievement and the promise of great work to come. The awards are given solely to emerging writers, and writers cannot apply for the awards; anonymous judges choose each year’s slate of winners. The 2022 winners were announced April 6 at the New-York Historical Society.

Cariño’s poetry has appeared in Guernica, Diode, Poetry Northwest, Poetry Magazine, Paris Review Daily, Waxwing, New England Review and elsewhere. In 2019, Cariño founded a reading series, Indigena Collective, centering marginalized creatives in the community. In 2021, Cariño was selected as one of four winners of the 92Y Discovery Poetry Contest. They are also the winner of the 2021 Alice James Award for Feast, forthcoming from Alice James Books in March 2023.

Ina Cariño’s award-winning book Feast is forthcoming from Alice James Books in March 2023. Photo credit: Beowulf Sheehan.

Previous Whiting recipients include David Foster Wallace, Lydia Davis, Tony Kushner, Akhil Sharma, Danzy Senna, Katha Pollitt, Josip Novakovich, ZZ Packer, Sigrid Nunez, Yiyun Li, Victor LaValle, Major Jackson, Nell Freudenberger and Jeffry Eugenides. Whiting winner Colson Whitehead won the National Book Award for his novel The Underground Railroad, and Whiting Award winner Tarell Alvin McCraney’s play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue became the basis for the Oscar-winning film Moonlight.

Another alum of NC State’s MFA program, poet Tyree Daye, won a Whiting Award in 2019. Daye is now a teaching assistant professor in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at UNC-Chapel Hill. 

This post was originally published in NC State News.