Donika Kelly is the author of The Renunciations (Graywolf), winner of the Anisfield-Wolf book award in poetry, and Bestiary (Graywolf), the winner of the 2015 Cave Canem Poetry Prize, a Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and a Kate Tufts Discovery Award. Kelly’s poetry has been a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Publishing Triangle Awards, the Lambda Literary Awards, and longlisted for the National Book Award. A Cave Canem graduate fellow and member of the collective Poets at the End of the World, she has also received a Lannan Residency Fellowship, and a summer workshop fellowship from the Fine Arts Work Center. She earned an MFA from the University of Texas at Austin and a PhD in English from Vanderbilt University. She is an assistant professor in the English Department at the University of Iowa, where she teaches creative writing.
I’ve been thinking lately about time, about simultaneity, and, always, about rest. What has happened before, which is also happening now, and when can I lay my body down, lose my mind into its own meanderings and how? The National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship will make possible many returns and meanderings, and it situates me in a lineage of poets and writers in need of time and rest to do our good work. When I received the news of the award, I thought first of what beaches I might sit on, what horizons I might scan for breath or breach, and then of the poems that would come, different, more textured, because the NEA’s support.