Detroit Poet Wins $50,000 Kresge Eminent Artist Award

Naomi Long Madgett, professor emerita at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, has been named the 2012 Kresge Eminent Artist. The award, which comes with a $50,000 cash prize, was given to Professor Madgett for her “decades of commitment to originating, illuminating, and preserving poetry by African-Americans.” The award, which is funded by the Kresge Foundation, is administered by the College for Creative Studies in Detroit.

Professor Madgett is a native of Norfolk, Virginia. She published her first poem at the age of 13 and her first book of poems a few days after her graduation from high school. She is a graduate of Virginia State University.

Professor Madgett, who is the author of 10 books of poetry, taught in a Detroit high school for 12 years before joining the faculty at Eastern Michigan University in 1968. She taught creative writing, Black literature and Victorian literature courses. She retired from teaching in 1984.

In 1972, Madgett founded Lotus Press, a publishing firm that has produced more than 90 collections of poetry. In 2001, she was named poet laureate of Detroit. Now 88 years old, she continues to write poetry and guest lectures in Detroit-area classrooms.

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