Tiffany Melanson is a poet and arts educator with an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars. She is the author of the audio chapbook What Happens (EAT Poems). Her work has appeared in POETRY Magazine, Cutleaf Journal, Bridge Eight, and Compose Journal, among others. She has been named a Bennington Writing Seminars Teaching Fellow and a Peter Taylor Fellow at the Kenyon Writers Workshop and received a Tin House Residency for parents. Since 2011, Melanson has taught poetry workshops and oral interpretation at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts where she is also the program director; faculty sponsor of Élan, an international student literary magazine; and co-director of the Douglas Anderson Writers’ Festival.
I’ve spent most of my life writing poetry, mostly as a form of healing. I discovered the art form as a teenager when attending a magnet arts public high school in my hometown of Jacksonville, Florida. Finding a way to put language to the confusion and frustrations of adolescent emotion was astonishing to me. I remember being introduced to the work of poet Lucille Clifton and thinking to myself, “Is she allowed to say these things out loud?” Poetry became a miracle, a magical hiding place for the beauty and the ugliness of my hurting heart. When I had the privilege of returning to Douglas Anderson School of the Arts as a teacher in my early 30s to teach poetry to teenagers, some magic that had alluded me most of my adult life returned and once again, poetry saved my life. Receiving this fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts at this stage in my creative journey is today’s magic. I’ve always shared with my students that to live a life fully devoted to an art like poetry there will always be sacrifice involved, because most of us are afraid to look at the parts of ourselves poetry requires us to enter to receive its blessing. The gift of time and resources the NEA is providing for me to continue this difficult and necessary artistic work allows me to settle into the enormity of it with an assurance I have never had as an artist and to say what I mean to say, out loud and without apology. Honestly, there is no greater gift.