Passion for Justice

MFA Alum Receives Prestigious Poetry Fellowship

by Daniel Morgan

Craig Santos Perez, ‘06 graduate of USF’s MFA in Writing program, has become the first native Pacific Islander to win the Lannan Foundation Literary Fellowship for Poetry.

Perez is native Chamorro originally from Guam and is currently an associate professor in the English department at University of Hawai'i, Mānoa, as well as affiliate faculty in the school's Center for Pacific Islands Studies and Indigenous Politics Program. According to a recent NBC article, Perez plans to use the residency associated with the fellowship to complete his next book of poetry, which will be a collection focusing on nature, ecology, environmental injustice, climate change, and food.

"Reading Pacific poetry is especially important now considering the threats facing the islands today," Perez said in the article, threats including heightened military activity, rising sea levels, extractive capitalism, endangered human and animal habitats. “Pacific poets are vital voices [raising] awareness about these issues."

Perez’s other accolades include a 2015 American Book Award and a 2011 PEN Center USA/Poetry Society of America Poetry Award.