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Haitian-American trans* author, artist wins literature prize

Duplan, trans poet, curator and artist
An Duplan, trans* poet, curator and artist, won the 2022 Whiting Prize for Literature and teaches at Bennington College. Photo by Lyndsy Welgos.

MILWAUKEE — Over the course of writing his book, “Blackspace: On the Poetics of an Afrofuture,” An Duplan transitioned from living as a woman to living as a man.  This April, “Blackspace” won the Whiting Prize for Literature — $50,000 awarded to writers in the process of completing a book-length work of nonfiction that is both researched and imaginatively composed.

“‘Blackspace’ was one of the first times that I even wrote about being trans*,” Duplan said in a phone interview from Vermont, where he lives. “For a while there was no reason for me to write about it.” Then he realized it was to open up the topic for others. 

“I didn’t feel like it was relevant,” Duplan said, “and I also didn’t feel quite ready to talk about it. It just took a while.” 

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