NEA Literature Fellowships

Shane McCrae

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(2013 - Poetry)

The Crowd Shouted and Hollered

Cut off before

burning him his

Fingers his fingers off     wanted his fingers

Fresh and could sell them

Later in town

and didn't want his fingers burned

black     / Cut off his fingers held     his fingers high

Mostly a clear day and

the crowd     shouted and hollered and

They couldn't see the fingers there was so much blood could

only see the blood     could see

The fingers there     was so much blood / They couldn't tell the fingers from

the white man's fingers     / It

looked as if the white man had

cut his own fingers off

But who what     sane man

would cut his own fingers off

(from Blood, Noeni Press, 2013)

Shane McCrae is the author of Mule (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2011), a finalist for the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and the PEN Center USA Literary Award, and Blood (Noemi Press, 2013), as well as three chapbooks--most recently, Nonfiction, which won the Black Lawrence Press Black River Chapbook Competition. He work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in The American Poetry Review, Colorado Review, Smartish Pace, and elsewhere, and he has received a Whiting Writer's Award and a fellowship from the NEA.

Photo courtesy of the artist

Author's Statement

Had I not been fortunate enough to receive an NEA Fellowship this year, I don't know how I would have managed to push money worries from me and away to a tolerable distance. The fellowship has made--and continues to make--my work possible. And it's through my work that I make sense, as best I can, of and with my position in the world. But it's more important to me that my poems have some usefulness for any readers they might have, and I'm most grateful for the opportunity the fellowship affords me to keep trying to make something that might be beneficial to others.