Award-winning poet Claudia Rankine has selected Kemi Alabi’s manuscript Against Heaven as the recipient of the 2021 Academy of American Poets First Book Award, the nation’s most valuable first-book prize for a poet. Alabi’s manuscript will be published by Graywolf Press in April 2022.

In addition to publication, Alabi will receive a six-week all-expenses-paid residency at the Civitella Ranieri Center in Umbria, Italy, as well as $5,000. The Academy of American Poets will also purchase and send thousands of copies of the book to its members, making it one of the most widely distributed poetry books of the year. In addition, they will be featured on and in American Poets magazine.

Read the full press release.