Two Queer Black Men Just Won 2020 Pulitzer Prizes

Finally, some good news!

On the hunt for some good news as quarantine stretches on? We’ve got you: Poet Jericho Brown and playwright Michael R. Jackson, both gay black men, just scored two of the most prestigious honors in literature.

The 2020 Pulitzer Prize winners were announced Monday, with 15 honorees in journalism categories and seven in book, drama, and music categories. Brown, a prolific Atlanta-based poet, former National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) fellow, and professor at Emory University, took home the Pulitzer in Poetry for The Tradition, his 2019 “collection of masterful lyrics” examining dangers black men in America face every day.

“I mean…I dunno…” Brown joked on Twitter. “You have to admit, ’Black queer men win the Pulitzer for poetry and drama’ is a pretty funny sentence, right?”

Jackson, a New York City-based playwright, composer, and lyricist, was awarded the Pulitzer in Drama for A Strange Loop, his metafictional musical that follows Usher, a “black, queer writer, working a day job he hates while writing his original musical: a piece about a black, queer writer, working a day job he hates while writing his original musical.”

The show premiered at NYC’s Mainstage Theater in June 2019 from Playwrights Horizons to great critical acclaim.

Walter McBride/Getty Images
Jackson (R) with director Whitney White in 2019.

“Never in my wildest dreams,” the NYU Tisch School of the Arts alum tweeted Monday. “NEVER. IN MY. WILDEST. DREAMS. Thank you to everyone who has supported me on my journey to such an incredible honor. I’m sure I’ll have more to say once I’ve caught my breath and looked at all these text messages and emails but for now, THANK YOU.”

For the full list of 2020 Pulitzer Prize winners, click here.

Main image: The cover of Brown’s The Tradition, out now from Copper Canyon Press.

Brooklyn-based writer and editor. Probably drinking iced coffee or getting tattooed.
@_sammanzella