Bangladeshi-American writer wins Pitt Press’ Starrett Poetry Prize

Anuradha Bhowmik of Philadelphia is the 2021 winner of the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize — given annually by the University of Pittsburgh Press — for her collection “Brown Girl Chromatography.”

Anuradha BhowmikBhowmik, a Bangladeshi-American poet and writer from South Jersey, will have her collection published this fall by the Pitt Press as part of the Pitt Poetry Series.

The Starrett prize winner was selected by new judge Aaron Smith — a former winner of the Starrett Prize for his collection “Blue on the Ground.” He also is the author of three other books of poetry and a three-time finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. Smith currently teaches creative writing at Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass.

“Brown Girl Chromatography” is shaped by Bhowmik’s life growing up as a first-generation immigrant in the United States. The collection looks at issues of race, class, gender and sexuality in post-9/11 America while navigating Bhowmik’s millennial childhood, adolescence and adulthood.

She earned her master of fine arts from Virginia Tech and is a 2022 Kundiman Fellow and a 2018 AWP Intro Journals Project Winner in Poetry. She has received awards from the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, the Community of Writers, the New York State Summer Writers Institute, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Frost Place, the Indiana University Writers’ Conference, the Eckerd College Writers’ Conference and the Juniper Summer Writing Institute.

Established in 1981, the Starrett prize honors Agnes Lynch Starrett, the first director of the Pitt Press, and is awarded for a first full-length book of poems. The prize carries a cash award of $5,000 and publication by the University of Pittsburgh Press.