A renowned poet and translator, Aaron Coleman, has been widely published in venues like The New York Times Magazine, and his first two books received a great reception. St. Trigger won the Button Chapbook Poetry Prize in 2016, and Threat Come Close, published by Four Way Books in 2018, was the 2020 GLCA New Writers Award for Poetry winner and longlisted for The Believer Book Award.
Early mentor Diane Seuss wrote of Coleman’s debut, Threat Come Close: “Whitman-like in its expansiveness, with Dickinson’s ferocious interiority, this collection represents the ravishing next step in American poetry.” And the poet Terrance Hayes wrote, “Quizzical, idiosyncratic, and blood-fueled: this extraordinary debut epitomizes how the best of our contemporary poetry sings.”
Arriving in St. Louis in the summer of 2013, Coleman became an important figure in what would become known as the St. Louis Black Arts Renaissance. He received his MFA in creative writing from Washington University in 2015. Professor Mary Jo Bang and Professor Carl Phillips selected him as a Third Year Fellow in the Writing Program for the 2015-16 academic year, after which he entered the International Writers Track in the Comparative Literature Department at Washington University. Working alongside Professor Ignacio Infante as his dissertation advisor, Coleman received his PhD in comparative literature in 2021.
Coleman also received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts in 2021, the J. William Fulbright Program, the Cave Canem Foundation, and the American Literary Translators Association. He is currently a postdoctoral fellow in Critical Translation Studies at the University of Michigan.
The Aaron Coleman Papers continue a tradition begun in the 1960s where successful writers early in their careers are invited to become a part of the Modern Literature Collection in the Julian Edison Department of Special Collections. Coleman’s papers demonstrate his dedication as both artist and scholar from 2015 to 2021. Included are drafts of poems from his first two books, class materials from his MFA and PhD years, and other materials highlighting some of the important moments in his work both on campus and within the wider St. Louis area.
Header Image Credit: Aaron Coleman photographed for the 2023 Faces of WashU by Ajla Ahmetovic.