MCW Fellow Darius Atefat-Peckham is Keene Prize Runner-Up

Michener Center Fellow Darius Atefat-Peckham has been named a runner-up for the 2024 UT Keene Prize for Literature, for an excerpt from his forthcoming book of poetry, Book of Kin.

The Keene Prize, named for E. L. Keene, a 1942 graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, is open to all UT students and is meant to support the pursuit of great American writing. The award for this year’s prize was $70,000, with three runners-up receiving $40,000 each.

Laurel Faye, a graduate student in the New Writers Project, was awarded the grand prize for her novel excerpt “Seal, Wife.” In addition to Atefat-Peckham, other runners-up included Ira James Goga and Kyle Okeke.

The poems in Book of Kin follow a boy’s coming of age in the aftermath of a car accident that took the lives of his mother and brother, Susan and Cyrus Atefat-Peckham. Inspired by the Persian epic The Book of Kings, the Sufi mystic poetry of Rumi, and his mother’s poetry, these poems form a path of connection between the author and his Iranian heritage. Book of Kin interrogates what it means to exist between cultures, to be a survivor of tragedy, to practice love and joy toward one’s beloveds, and to hope for greater connection.

Book of Kin is forthcoming from Autumn House Press in October 2024.