Sweet Briar alumna, CM Burroughs ’04, poetry included on the National Book Award longlist

Photo courtesy of Columbia College Chicago website

Christina M. “CM” Burroughs ’04 majored in English and creative writing at Sweet Briar. Her recent poetry collection, “Master Suffering”, was named to the Longlist for the 2021 National Book Award.

When she graduated from Sweet Briar, she had to choose between pursuing a law degree or pursuing her MFA. CM went on to earn her MFA in poetry from the University of Pittsburgh. She is currently an associate professor of creative writing at Columbia College Chicago.

The National Book Awards were established in 1950 to celebrate the best writing in America. Since 1989, they have been overseen by the National Book Foundation, a nonprofit organization. The mission of the National Book Foundation is to celebrate the best literature in America, expand its audience and ensure that books have a prominent place in American culture. The awards have recognized many categories in the past, but the awards currently honor fiction, nonfiction, poetry, translated literature and young people’s literature. Each panel of judges selects 10 titles per category to be added to the longlist. Then, the list is narrowed to five finalists and a winner is chosen each year in November. The five judges for each category are the ones that read all of the submissions and make decisions on winners.

According to the publisher, Tupelo Press, CM’s collection “pendulates between yield and command; the bodies of this book are supplicant yet seething—they want nothing more than to survive. But how does a woman survive? One’s own healthy body helps, but illness is one of the masters of this book. Faith can be a salve for the inscrutable ailments of the body, but God is unreliable in these poems. The female bodies of Master Suffering want power; they want to control and to correct the suffering they witness and withstand.”

CM has also been awarded various fellowships and grants from Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, Djerassi Foundation, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and Cave Canem Foundation.

Holla, holla CM! Sweet Briar College is proud of you!