Charif Shanahan

Award-winning Poet
National Book Award Longlist
Lambda Literary Award Finalist

Readings &
Lecture Topics
  • Locating the Self: Intertextual Poetic Strategies
  • An Evening with Charif Shanahan


“A master of shaping his dialectic through lyrical groundwork. Calm and potent.”—Los Angeles Review of Books

“Lyrical and unforgiving…a rare kind of poet.”—Ilya Kaminsky

“Revelatory and pulsating with truth, Trace Evidence is a dangerously wise book of poems. Each poem is full of muscular music and meticulously carved out of longing as they ask, not just why we live, but how we live, and for whom. Wholly human and deeply rooted in attention, this book is for anyone who has ever questioned where they belonged.” ―Ada Limón

“Charif Shanahan is examining race and sexuality in ways I have not seen… A necessary voice.” ―Natasha Trethewey

Born in the Bronx to an Irish-American father and a Moroccan mother, Charif Shanahan is the author of two collections of poetry: Trace Evidence (Tin House, 2023), which was Longlisted for the National Book Award for Poetry, the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry; and Into Each Room We Enter without Knowing (Crab Orchard Series in Poetry/SIU Press, 2017), his meditative and trenchant debut which was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry and the Thom Gunn Award.

In arresting lyric poems, Shanahan centers the racial periphery and explores the impact of our colonial pasts (and present) on the most intimate aspects of our lives. Ocean Vuong praised Trace Evidence as “astute, subversively reserved, and propulsive… a truly magical achievement.” The collection has received wide praise for its ability to pursue universal spiritual questions through the lens of our most urgent social issues, with remarkable lyric precision: the result is a deeply poignant meditation on human separateness, rooted equally in the physical and metaphysical worlds, that reaches beyond constructed social divisions to our shared humanity.

Shanahan is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship; the Wallace Stegner Fellowship and Jones Lectureship at Stanford University; a Fulbright Senior Scholar Grant to Morocco; and residency fellowships from Cave Canem Foundation, Hawthornden Foundation in Griante, Italy, the MacDowell Colony, Millay Colony for the Arts, La Maison Baldwin in St Paul, France, and the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, among other awards and recognitions.

Shanahan’s poems appear widely, in such journals as American Poetry Review, The Nation, The New Republic, The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Paris Review, and PBS NewsHour. His work has been anthologized in American Journal: Fifty Poems for Our Time (Graywolf Press, 2018), Furious Flower’s Seeding the Future of African American Poetry (Northwestern, 2019), and African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle & Song (Library of America, 2020).

He holds a BA in Comparative Literature and Creative Writing from Princeton University; an MA in Comparative Literature and Literary Translation from Dartmouth College; and an MFA in Poetry from NYU’s Graduate Creative Writing Program. Former Programs Director of the Poetry Society of America, he has taught literature and language at California College of the Arts (CCA), the Collegio di Milano (Italy), New York University, and Stanford University. He is an Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing at Northwestern University.

Short Bio

Charif Shanahan is the author of Trace Evidence, which was longlisted for the 2023 National Book Award, and Into Each Room We Enter without Knowing, a Lambda Literary Award finalist, and Publishing Triangle’s Thom Gunn Award Finalist. His work has appeared in American Poetry Review, The Nation, The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Paris Review, PBS NewsHour, and Poetry. He has received fellowships from the National Endowment of the Arts, the Stegner Fellowship Program, and the Fulbright Commission. An Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing at Northwestern University, Charif lives in Chicago, Illinois.
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