The Woodberry Poetry Room is pleased to announce that the recipient of this year’s WPR Creative Fellowship is Jonah Mixon-Webster for his project “Promise/Threat.” He will receive a $4,500 honorarium and a one-week residency at the Eliot House in Gloucester, Massachusetts.
It also gives us immense pleasure to announce that Will Dowd has been selected as the recipient of this year’s WPR Creative Grant for his project “Dreamfall.” He will receive a stipend of $2,000.
The Poetry Room’s fellowship and grants program offers financial support and research assistance to poets, artists, and scholars interested in undertaking creative projects that would benefit from the resources available at the WPR archive, as well as from time spent at Harvard University as a whole. Past fellowship recipients have included Diana Khoi Nguyen & Jane Wong, Jared Stanley & Sameer Farooq, Sawako Nakayasu, Tracie Morris, Kate Colby, Dan Beachy-Quick, Erin Moure, Eileen Myles, and Fanny Howe. Past grant recipients have included: Harmony Holiday, Lindsay Turner, Tess Gallagher, and Tongo Eisen-Martin.
About the Project: During his fellowship year, Mixon-Webster will work toward the completion of his second collection, Promise/Threat. “Having the opportunity to study and create at the Woodberry Poetry Room would allow me to explore how other poets have approached the inexplicable realities of the subconscious.” Using the incantatory and spellbinding features of the poetic form, the full-length poetry collection Promise/Threat holds a mirror towards the Black psyche to interrogate the nature of dreams, deja vu, jamais vu, premonitions, and improvisations informed by a racialized imaginary. Digging deep into the strange, peculiar, and inexplicable experiences of Blackness, Promise/Threat explores the ways racial ideologies and experiences mutate subconsciously to produce curiosities of eunoia, paranoia, desire, intuition, and precognition.
About the Recipient: Jonah Mixon-Webster is a poet, educator, scholar, and art activist from Flint, Michigan. He is the founder of the Flint-based non-profit Center for Imaginative Freedoms and Economic Relief (C.I.F.E.R.) and serves as chapter leader of PEN America-Detroit. His debut poetry collection, Stereo(TYPE), received the PEN America/Joyce Osterweil Award and was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry.
An alumnus of Eastern Michigan University and of the Illinois State University doctoral program in creative writing, he is the inaugural Mellon Arts Postdoctoral Fellow in African American and African Diaspora Studies at Columbia University, the recipient of the Windham-Campbell Prize for Poetry and fellowships from Vermont Studio Center, Center for African American Poetry and Poetics, Images & Voices of Hope, The Conversation Literary Festival, and the PEN Writing for Justice Program.
His poetry and hybrid works are featured in various publications, including Harper’s Magazine, The Yale Review, The Rumpus, PennSound, Best New Poets, and Best American Experimental Writing.
About the Project: According to the Argentinian poet Jorge Luis Borges, “Writing is nothing more than a guided dream.” During his Creative Grant, Will Dowd will test this assertion in an experiment designed to explore the boundaries of poetry, dreams, and the human imagination. Using Dormio, a targeted dream inception device developed at the MIT Media Lab, Dowd will draw from the Woodberry Poetry Room’s collection of literary recordings for audio cues to direct his dreams over the course of the 2022-2023 academic year. DREAMFALL will document the results of this experiment in a multidisciplinary work combining critical essay with art and poetry.
This project was inspired by Dowd’s vision disorder, which has deprived him of the unique feeling of transport that comes from reading great poetry. He hopes to find a novel use for emerging dream technologies and pioneer a new reading experience, especially for the print-disabled.
About the Recipient: Will Dowd is a writer and artist based outside Boston. His first collection of essays, Areas of Fog, was named a Massachusetts Book Awards Nonfiction “Must Read.” He earned a Master’s of Science from MIT as a John Lyons Fellow, an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from New York University as a Jacob K. Javits Fellow in Poetry, and a B.A. from Boston College as a Presidential Scholar. He is the recipient of the St. Botolph Club Foundation Emerging Artist Award, the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Award, and the Key West Literary Seminar Scholarship. His writing and artwork have appeared in The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, NPR, Writer’s Digest, and elsewhere.
For more information about the WPR Creative Fellowship program, please visit: https://library.harvard.edu/libraries/poetryroom#fellowships.