An exceptional Professor of English at Rice University in Houston Texas, Kiese Laymon, has been awarded the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship popularly known as the “genius grant” for the 2022 set.
Professor Kiese Laymon’s win makes him only the second person to clinch the prestigious award in the history of Rice University. According to a report from the university’s media, Professor Laymon utilised his experience being a Black Southern writer to narrate forms of violence witnessed from his perspective.
“His writing across multiple forms — including essays, memoirs and fiction — is rooted in his perspective as a Black Southern man,” the report stated.
Professor Laymon has authored several books including novels and essay collections. Reacting to the award conferred on him by the MacArthur Fellowship, he expressed gratitude to everyone that contributed to his success.
“I’m not big into awards and recognition, but this one feels special. Revision and Mississippi did this. I’m just thankful. Some really incredible people thought my work was OK. That’s a big deal to me,” Laymon said of the fellowship.
Professor Kiese Laymon received the award of $800,000 as one of the 2022 Cohort of MacArthur Fellows, the awardees can use the money as they see fit.
The President of Rice University, Reginald DesRoches, described Professor Laymon’s win as a huge win for the university. “This is a huge win for Kiese, for Rice’s School of Humanities and for the university as a whole,” he said.
“Any time one of our professors’ work is recognized by a prestigious organization such as the MacArthur Foundation, it shines a light on the extremely high-caliber faculty at Rice and the impact of their research, scholarship and creative pursuits,” the University President added.
Speaking on the outstanding performance of Professor Laymon, the university provost, Amy Dittmar, lauded him for making such an exceptional mark in the short time he has spent with Rice University.
“Kiese has only been with Rice a short time and has already had a profound impact on our students and our School of Humanities. We are thrilled he is a part of our Rice community. This award is a well-earned acknowledgement of his outstanding talent and future contributions to his field,” Amy Dittmar said.
Professor Laymon expressed happiness to have received the award while he is with Rice university. “I’m really happy that this happened while I’m at Rice. The MacArthur means a ton to my Jackson family, especially now. I hope it might mean a lot to Rice and Houston,” Professor Laymon said.
He plans to use some of the grant money “to work on artful connections between middle school students in Houston and Jackson.”
“I’m really thankful my mama encouraged me to keep making daring — or she would say, ‘excellent’ — art, no matter what,” Professor Laymon added.