Spotlight on NEA Literature Fellow Sandra Beasley

Edited by Paulette Beete
Headshot of poet Sandra Beasley
Sandra Beasley. Photo by Matthew Worden

Sandra Beasley is one of 36 poets newly minted as NEA Literature Fellows. We asked Beasley--who also teaches and writes nonfiction and journalism in addition to poetry--to share her cultural resolutions for 2015. Here's what she had to say:

I plan to read journals in real-time. Literary magazines are the best place to find fresh, new voices and raw, in-progress work by familiar authors. They do no one any good in a dusty stack by the fireplace. 

I plan to dance more. Not in some metaphysical sense; I mean dancing worthy of a Clarksdale juke-joint. Writing keeps my fingers busy, but an artist's body should be engaged in all forms of motion. 

I plan to donate more. I often give my time in the form of readings and community workshops, and I'll pledge the $25 that helps get an album produced or a book printed. Now I want to build sustainable relationships, with a few carefully chosen arts organizations, so that a decade from now I've made a substantive difference. My finances are tight, but so are the budgets of groups that need help. We're in this together. 

I plan to relax my email style. Does anyone else edit for alliteration, ration exclamation marks, and massage line breaks? Or is that the exclusive territory of perfectionist poets? I lose hours on this, seriously. 

I plan to be present. I have a new marriage, a book coming out, and two teaching gigs. Being anxious--and making a huge to-do list--comes naturally. Being grateful, and taking a breath, is a lesson worth learning. 

Sandra Beasley is the author of the poetry collections Theories of Falling and I Am the Jukebox. Her third collection, Count the Waves, is forthcoming from W.W. Norton this year. She is also the author of the nonfiction memoir Don't Kill the Birthday Girl: Tales from an Allergic Life, and has written for the New York Times Magazine, the Washington Post Magazine, and the Oxford American, among many other publications.

Stay tuned for more from Beasley and her fellow Fellows when we launch the new edition of Writers' Corner early this spring. And don't forget to let us know what your 2015 cultural resolutions are in the comments.