An extremely deserving class of MacArthur grantees were named in the literary arts last night. They include poet Claudia Rankine whose Citizen was the book of Black Lives Matter but so much more — a protest object at Trump rallies and a avenue for people to understand the everyday burden of being black in America as well as the relevance of poetry — and Maggie Nelson, whose The Argonauts was similarly timely, a meditation on queer family-making that was both full of high-minded critical inquiry and also deeply personal reflection. These two writers were something of the literary darlings last year, but that label short-sells the depth and importance of their work, which heightens identity politics to an idea that, when translated through literature, can speak to our universal humanity.
Other awardees included Sarah Stillman who writes about poverty, immigration, mass incarceration for The New Yorker, art historian and curator Kellie Jones and a group of artists in every medium — graphic novelists, video artists, jewelry makers — as well as brilliant scientists and mathematicians.
Look through the list of 2016 fellows and be awed at the good that your fellow citizens are capable of producing.