Poet and essayist Anne Boyer, winner of the 2020 Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction, is Hollins University’s Louis D. Rubin Jr. Writer-in-Residence for 2023.
Each spring, Hollins hosts a distinguished writer-in-residence who works with graduate and selected undergraduate students. The residency is named for the founder of the university’s renowned creative writing program.
Boyer was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for her memoir The Undying: Pain, Vulnerability, Mortality, Medicine, Art, Time, Dreams, Data, Exhaustion, Cancer, and Care. At age 41, she was diagnosed with highly aggressive triple-negative breast cancer. For a single mother living paycheck to paycheck who had always been the caregiver rather than the one needing care, the catastrophic illness was both a crisis and an initiation into new ideas about mortality and the gendered politics of illness.
Harper’s Magazine said The Undying “is honed to a precision that feels hard-won. The politics of illness – how the profit motive determines life and damage and death; how victim blaming is enshrined; how social norms can disable and kill – have rarely been limned with such clarity and grace,” while the Los Angeles Review of Books described Boyer’s writing as “precise and comprehensive, intimate and philosophical; its self-awareness is so rigorous it feels almost extravagant. It’s hard to imagine how she made this book, so near to the agony it documents.” Publisher’s Weekly noted that “Boyer’s gorgeous language elevates this artful, piercing narrative well above the average medical memoir.”
Boyer received Yale University’s Donald Windham-Sandy M. Campbell Literature Prize in 2020 and was the 2018-19 Judith Wilson Poetry Fellow at Cambridge University. She was the inaugural winner of the 2018 Cy Twombly Award for Poetry and that same year was presented the Whitting Award in nonfiction/poetry. Her other books include A Handbook of Disappointed Fate and Garments Against Women, which won the 2016 Community of Literary Magazine and Presses (CLMP) Firecracker Award.
In addition to serving as Hollins’ writer-in-residence this spring, Boyer is The New York Times Magazine‘s poetry editor for 2023.
Hollins’ writer-in-residence program began in 1961. To support the initiative, an endowed fund honoring Wyndham Robertson ’58 was established in 1994. The program was then named in tribute to Rubin in 2000. Previous writers-in-residence include William Golding (1962); Flannery O’Connor, Robert Penn Warren, and Eudora Welty (1964); Lee Smith ’67 (1976); Richard Adams (1977); Derek Walcott (1980); and Natasha Trethewey M.A. ’91 (2012).