NEA Literature Fellowships

Jenny Browne

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(2013 - Poetry)

Some Studies for the Monster (excerpt)

2.  Color

The American Alligator eats anything
          but cannot chew;

green how I want you green.

An evening sky gets its fifteen minutes of bruise
          after the last of the strawberry daiquiri

signaling our century's deep connection
of early evening to pain relief.

See also "The Happy Hour."

A deserted Days Inn,
the dark woman sitting alone.

Before her, lavender eyelids and peachy crust
          of the bartender's makeup

crackling as she smiles back.

Afterward, both of them saying I've never.

Her meaning with another girl.
Her meaning with a white girl.

Out back, the sun reconsiders suffering.

Something there is that loves
places we can't quite reach.

(first published in Tin House)

Jenny Browne is the author of three collections of poems: At Once (2004), The Second Reason (2007) and Dear Stranger (forthcoming, 2013), all from the University of Tampa Press. Her poems and essays have recently appeared in American Poetry Review, AGNI, Barrow Street, Gulf Coast, Pleiades, Threepenny Review, and The New York Times. She has received fellowships from the James Michener Center for Writers, the Writing Center of Washington D.C., the Texas Writers League, and the San Antonio Artist Foundation. In 2012, she traveled to Kenya and Sierra Leone to teach poetry through the University of Iowa International Writers Program and the U.S. Department of State. The rest of the time she lives in downtown San Antonio, Texas, with her family, and teaches at Trinity University. 

Author's Statement

The NEA called on election day, November 6, 2012, with the thrilling news that I’d been awarded a fellowship. I'm beyond grateful for their vote, for the invaluable support it gives my own work, and more importantly the work of imagination as something our country still believes worth supporting. I hope the poems in my new collection Dear Stranger speak to what I mean by American, or rather what I hope being American might mean, using a wide range of structures and voices to explore race, family, landscape and grief. The support of the NEA will allow me to take a semester off from full time teaching to finish this book, and hopefully to begin some new projects. The words luck and time keep appearing whenever I close my eyes.