NEA Literature Fellowships

Lillian-Yvonne Bertram

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(2015 - Poetry)

"my brother asks me what it's like to live in Utah and not be white"

first there are trees
lots to which commonalities
I do share cosigns and ballroom
tactics to be sure and specific
among the ability to cool
the trunk as needed
everything petals and bud seasons look
good on me good with my
you know what goes better with a tree some blonde
strangers touch on me even when
looks good with your
wood would look so much good
with some cotton on it

(First appeared in Court Green)

Lillian-Yvonne Bertram is the author of But a Storm is Blowing From Paradise, selected by Claudia Rankine as the 2010 Benjamin Saltman Award winner and published by Red Hen Press in 2012. Her second book, a slice from the cake made of air, is forthcoming from Red Hen Press and her third, personal science, is forthcoming from Tupelo Press. The recipient of numerous awards and honors, her poetry, prose, photography, and digital stories have been published widely. She holds degrees in creative writing from the University of Utah, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Carnegie Mellon University. Raised in Buffalo, New York, as of this writing she resides in upstate New York and at

Photo by Lillian-Yvonne Bertram

Author's Statement

I've come to believe that money cannot buy time. Health means time, and money can buy health. At this point in my career, this fellowship suggests the prospect of improved health: physical and emotional. With health intact, I have faith that whatever time I need will surely follow.

I am grateful for the financial support of this fellowship, and for the financial support the NEA has given to several small publishers and arts organizations that support writers and communities.