Lillian Janique Giles - 2022 Graduate Hood Recipient

Lillian Janique Giles

Lillian Janique Giles - M.F.A, Creative Writing - College of Liberal & Creative Arts

Lillian Janique Giles, a graduating MFA Creative Writing student, is a Black Queer writer and educator living in Oakland, California. She holds a BA in literature from the University of Central Florida and entered our MFA Creative Writing program as an awardee of the Joe Brainard Fellowship in fiction. Her epistolary lyrical essay, Dear Daughters, originated in one of her MFA classes, was published in the literary magazine The Rumpus, and speaks brilliantly and with heart to the past, present and future of Black folks in an insistent and immovable polyphonic voice: "Our ancestors say god is always on time. Or gods? We can't remember; we forgot to ask. God or gods feel like music to us sometimes. Like a beat encoded—if only we could figure it out. There is too much to remember." In 2021, Lillian held a lively and rich in-conversation with revered and critically-acclaimed author Kiese Laymon (author of Heavy) for our first Marcus Guest Speaker in Creative Writing event, attended by over 200 members of the Creative Writing Department, the campus and the larger literary community. Lillian is currently finishing a novel based on her great-grandmother's life as a midwife and defender of the 1940s Black Queer & genderqueer community. Her peers say "Lillian speaks with a special mix of poise and curiosity; she approaches the work of her fellows with gratitude and compassion. She is a wickedly talented writer in her own right––one who creates worlds that both tenderly reflect the realities of Black and queer folks while still determinately imagining a more hopeful future. It's clear she aims consistently to use intentional language and approaches everything with love and grace." Lillian's work won the Nomadic Press Literary award for fiction and was a finalist for the Audre Lorde award in poetry. A remarkable writer, educator and up and coming voice in the literary world, Lillian will change the lives of her students and her readers for many years. In her essay, Dear Daughters, the speaker says, 'For those of us insisting we still had our lives, an excavation began.' Lillian Giles has begun an essential excavation in the MFA program, and we celebrate her with pride.