Stephanie Cawley is the author of My Heart But Not My Heart (Slope Editions, 2020) and the chapbook A Wilderness (Gazing Grain Press, 2019). Cawley’s poems and hybrid pieces have been featured in Verse Daily, Poetry Daily, and the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day, and have been published in journals including DIAGRAM, the Fanzine, TYPO, and West Branch. Cawley holds an MFA in poetry from the University of Pittsburgh and currently lives, writes, and works in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
When asked in an interview about the biggest impediment to her writing life, the poet Anne Boyer answered, “Capitalism.”
I received the phone call that I’d been awarded this National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship on a 10-minute break between classes I teach as an adjunct. I sat on a bench on campus and briefly wept, stunned, then went back to work.
I don’t like the idea of having a writing “career,” but I do have a writing life. I love writing for the way it doesn’t have to go anywhere “useful” or “productive.” Like love. Like life.
This fellowship provides a sum of money that for me is life-altering, as it would be for so many of us who cobble together work and lives out of the scraps and wreckages of the systems that fail most people in this country. This is the wreckage I write inside of and about.
There are possibilities I have not allowed myself to dream of, for time, for travel, for materials, for rest, for connection and community, that now feel newly within reach. We all deserve such bounty.
I am profoundly honored to be recognized alongside and in the lineage of so many writers I truly admire who have been NEA recipients. I hope to live up to that honor with a deepened and renewed commitment to pursuing a radical, queer, feminist poetry and poetics.
Thank you, deeply and sincerely, for both the recognition and for the possibility.