Christina Sharpe

Recalibrating images of black existence, Christina Sharpe’s incisive, multi-layered work demands that we wrestle with brutality as we create meaning through language and art.

Born in Wayne, Pennsylvania, Christina Sharpe is the Canada Research Chair in Black Studies in the Humanities at York University in Toronto, Canada, as well as the author of three books of nonfiction: Ordinary Notes (2023), In the Wake: On Blackness and Being (2016), and Monstrous Intimacies: Making Post-Slavery Subjects (2010). In all her work, Sharpe explores the complex relationship between language and black being. In the Wake, for example, takes as its first principle that black death—both literal and metaphorical—remains essential to US (and global) political and social life. The book articulates a new orthography of the wake of chattel slavery through inhabiting the metaphor and material of the wake, the ship, the hold, and the weather. Sharpe's latest work, Ordinary Notes, develops this thinking in the formally inventive, intimate and revelatory ways, fusing archival work, cultural criticism, memoir, and photography in a series of 248 numbered notes that reflect on the “ordinary extraordinary matter of black life.” “I write these ordinary things,” Sharpe says, “to detail the everyday sonic and haptic vocabularies of living life under these brutal regimes.” Sharpe’s “radiant moments of ordinariness” demonstrate, brilliantly, how beauty, as an attention to everything, can be a method and a radical force not just for recognizing and refusing antiblack structures and logics but for contending with their continuation into the brutality of the present. Sharpe’s writing has also appeared in many artist catalogues and journals. Ordinary Notes was a Finalist for the National Book Award in Nonfiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award in Nonfiction. The winner of the 2023 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction, Sharpe lives in Toronto.

This award has significance for every aspect of my life. I am astonished. What a wonderful group to be a part of, what a wonder. All I can say is thank you. CHRISTINA SHARPE