NEA Literature Fellowships

Allison Seay

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(2013 - Poetry)

Time of Need

In the road, a dog.  Days dead,
that dog.  Liliana was walking beside me awhile
(I am sure) and I was almost not crying but then found

what I was looking for.
She heaved it for me--all of it, the stench, the weight--
in her thin arms until it was too much. 

Tired, she dragged the thing by its wasted paws
all the way home.  Her dress was stained.  This is how

I learned about love.  She did not mind at all
the silent, steady distance I placed between us.

(from To See the Queen by Allison Seay. Copyright © 2013 by Allison Seay. Reprinted by permission of Persea Books, Inc., New York)

Allison Seay is a 2011 recipient of a Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation. Her first book of poems, To See the Queen, won the Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize and is forthcoming from Persea Books. Other work has appeared in such journals as CrazyhorseThe Southern ReviewThe Hollins Critic, PoetryArts and Academe, and Pleiades. She worked for several years at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, as Assistant Director of the MFA Program and Associate Editor of the The Greensboro Review. She has taught at both Lynchburg College and the University of Mary Washington and lives near Richmond, Virginia.

Photo courtesy of the author

Author's Statement

It is an honor to be awarded an NEA fellowship, especially considering the talented company with which I share it. I love what Allison Titus, one of last year's fellows, says and echo it here: "to think that the work done in such isolation might also matter beyond the self is incredibly restorative and exhilarating."

This fellowship comes at the perfect time for me (as though there could be a less-than-perfect time to receive such an award) because I am between teaching jobs; the NEA's generosity will allow me to live with a little less anxiety while I spend this spring semester and upcoming summer working on more poems and shaping what will become a second full-length collection. 

And yet, even if there were no money involved, the fellowship's prestige is enough to feel validated and rewarded for a lifetime. The gift of encouragement, this vote of confidence, is most important. I am incredibly grateful.