Poet Enzo Silon Surin, a 2012 graduate of Lesley’s MFA in Creative Writing program, received the Massachusetts Book Award for Poetry for his collection, “When My Body Was a Clinched Fist” (Black Lawrence Press, 2020).
The Massachusetts Book Awards recognize significant works of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and children’s and young adult literature published by current Massachusetts residents. The recent awards recognized works published in 2020.
In a year when many poetry readings, publication parties, and literary events were canceled or driven online, the recognition feels especially significant to Surin, who celebrated the news with a spontaneous dance party with his two young sons. And in a state renowned for its literary history, he’s especially proud to be honored as part of the Massachusetts community of writers.
“It means a lot because poetry is one thing that they take extremely seriously here,” he says. “There’s a huge history of writers who have called the state of Massachusetts home.”
He also appreciates the recognition that the Massachusetts Center for the Book gives to poets as well as authors of fiction and nonfiction.
“It feels good to have poetry way up there,” he says. “A lot of lists come out at the end of the year and it’s usually fiction and nonfiction and people barely talk about poetry, which…it is what it is, but I know a lot of conversations are started by poetry.”
Surin, who lives in Swampscott, MA, is a professor at Bunker Hill Community College and the founder of Central Square Press. He is a recipient of the 2017 Brother Thomas Fellowship and a PEN New England Celebrated New Voice in Poetry award. In 2019 Lesley honored him with the Sally K. Lenhardt Professional Leadership Award, given to alumni who demonstrate a commitment to the arts, community service and education. He is currently working on a new collection of poetry titled “American Scapegoat,” focused on America’s reckoning with its historical and contemporary treatment of Black people.
“The collection really focuses on conversations that we should be having but aren't having,” he says.
Two other Lesley authors made the long list of “must reads” for poetry — alumnus Matthew E. Henry ’17 for his collection “Teaching While Black” and faculty member Steven Cramer for “Listen.”