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UW-Madison student, internationally-renowned poet wins award

UW-Madison student has been writing poetry for years and was recently rewarded for her poetic style and creativity. 

UW-Madison student has been writing poetry for years and was recently rewarded for her poetic style and creativity. 

Image By: Téalin Robinson

Few college students can boast publishing world-renowned poetry. UW-Madison junior Hajjar Baban, though, recently won yet another international award.

Baban submitted her work entitled What I Know of the Mountains, a manuscript of her poems, to win the 2018 Rick Campbell Chapbook Award last week. The piece highlights themes of belonging, her father and nationalism. 

“I interrogated a lot of my childhood in relation to an identity I feel rightfully distant and unexplainably near to,” Baban said. 

Baban received a $200 cash prize and author copies of the book as a reward. She said her next goal is to keep writing and reading poems that move her. 

“I’m always working on my poems, and when I’m not writing, I’m editing,” Baban said. “When I’m not editing, I’m restructuring the order of poems, and through all of this, I’m always reading others’ poems, or thinking about poems.”  

Baban has received numerous awards for her poetry. In 2017, she was the Detroit Youth Poet Laureate and one of two finalists for the National Youth Poet Laureate title. 

Baban majors in English, with a focus on poetry and creative writing. She is a student in the 10th cohort of UW-Madison’s First Wave Spoken Word and Hip Hop Arts Learning Community, a four-year scholarship program for students interested in pursuing multicultural arts and activism.  

“Much of my participation in academic spaces is influenced by the way I think about things because of the world and nature of poetry,” Baban said. “I’ve been super grateful to have really exceptional professors who are thoughtful and careful with their own work as well as mine.”

She first came into the poetry scene as a sophomore in high school when she took second place at a poetry slam in her hometown Detroit, Michigan. Since then, she has continued writing poems with themes centered around culture and migration. Baban said her feelings and experiences motivate her to write poems for herself and others. 

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