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Joanne Diaz

Connection to Illinois: Diaz is the Isaac Funk Endowed Professor of English at Illinois Wesleyan University.

Biography: Joan Diaz grew up in Billerica, Massachusetts. She received her BA from Tufts University; her MFA from New York University, where she was a New York Times fellow; and her PhD in English literature from Northwestern University, where she wrote a dissertation that focused on English Renaissance complaint poetry.

Diaz's poetry has appeared in AGNI, The American Poetry Review, and Prairie Schooner, among other publications. She is also a past recipient of writing fellowships from the Illinois Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts.

  • My Favorite Tyrants The Brittingham Prize in Poetry
  • The Lessons Gerald Cable Book Award

Primary Literary Genre(s): Poetry

Primary Audience(s): Adult readers


Selected Titles

My Favorite Tyrants
ISBN: 0299297845 OCLC: 874965494

University of Wisconsin Press, 2014.

Winner of the 2014 Brittingham Prize in Poetry, selected by Naomi Shihab Nye The word “tyrant” carries negative connotations, but in this new collection, Joanne Diaz tries to understand what makes tyranny so compelling, even seductive. These dynamic, funny, often poignant poems investigate the nature of tyranny in all of its forms—political, cultural, familial, and erotic. Poems about Stalin, Lenin, and Castro appear beside poems about deeply personal histories. The result is a powerful exploration of desire, grief, and loss in a world where private relationships are always illuminated and informed by larger, more despotic forces. Winner, Midwest Book Award for Poetry, Midwest Independent Publishers Association

The Lessons (Gerald Cable Book Award)
ISBN: 1878851594 OCLC: 683247731

Silverfish Review Press : Eugene, OR : 2011.

Poetry. "THE LESSONS is driven by the poet's passion for natural history, for the marvels and horrors of science, for the people closest to her, and, in every way, by music. The risks Diaz takes in this beautiful first book are the profound risks of art and of love"—Gail Mazur. "Excitedly descriptive, sinuously rhythmical, and vividly perceptive, Joanne Diaz's poems 'wring the roots of thought' and fill the mind's eye with scenes of the paradoxically sensuous richness of longing—homesickness, sorrow, love. In this book, 'desire' is not just an erotic longing but an existential one; that is, it is our capacity and hunger for meaning"—Reginald Gibbons.