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Announcing the 2019-2020 WPR Creative Fellowship & Grant Recipients

The Woodberry Poetry Room is pleased to announce that the recipient of this year’s WPR Creative Fellowship is Sawako Nakayasu for her project, “Sounds of War and Not-War, 1941-1945.”

Three WPR Creative Grants are also being given this year. The recipients are Jasmine Dreame Wagner, Brian Teare, and Tongo Eisen-Martin.

The Poetry Room’s fellowship and grants program offers stipends to artists and scholars to undertake creative projects that would benefit from the resources available at the WPR archive, as well as time spent at Harvard University as a whole.

Past fellowship and grant recipients have included Dan Beachy-Quick, Fanny Howe, Kate Colby, Christine Finn, Tracie Morris, Erin Moure, Eileen Myles, Tess Taylor, and Lindsay Turner. Some grants are selected through the fellowship application process; others are the result of a direct commission from the WPR curatorial staff.

AND NOT-WAR, 1941-1945

During her WPR Creative Fellowship, Nakayasu will work on an ongoing book project that encompasses a range of her multilingual writing practices.

This work will be based on the sound recordings in the Frederick C. Packard, Jr. Collection, with emphasis on recordings made between 1941 and 1945, thus tuning an ear to a historical period when the U.S. and Japan, the two nations of her racial and cultural heritage, were at war with each other.

Her project will involve a blend of procedures intrinsic to, and spiraling out of, the practices of transcription, translation, and transmission of language, and the juxtaposition of aesthetic engagements with the social and cultural realities of a particular time period.

Some previous books of multilingual or experimental writing by Nakayasu include Mouth: Eats Color – Sagawa Chika Translations, Anti-translations, & Originals (Rogue Factorial) and Costume en Face (a translation of Tatsumi Hijikata’s butoh dance notations). She is Assistant Professor in the Department of Literary Arts at Brown University.


Poet and multidisciplinary artist Jasmine Dreame Wagner will create “Radio Cento,” a sound art piece and radio documentary program series that will air on Hudson Valley radio station WGXC during Women’s History Month in 2020. The Cento, and accompanying documentary programs, will deliver pioneering women’s voices to listeners across the airwaves and to an audience of artists, curators and visitors in an exhibition at Brooklyn Wayfarers gallery in Bushwick, Brooklyn.

Wagner is the author of On a Clear Day (Ahsahta Press), Rings (Kelsey Street Press), and six chapbooks. Her work appears or is forthcoming in BOMB Magazine, Colorado Review, Fence, Guernica and Hyperallergic. She lives in New York.

Notes Toward Writing in the Anthropocene

En Plein Air Poetics is on the one hand a critical extension of his creative practice as an eco-poet, and on the other, an alternative literary history focusing on poets whose work is rooted in the outdoors and/or in rural spaces.

Teare looks forward to immersing in the WPR Collections, which will enable him “to enlarge his archive of both avant-rural and en plein air poems, texts, and authors; to interact with print publications and ephemera that emerged from various nodes in the network of avant-rural poets; and to listen to, when possible, recordings of avant-rural voices, and to write in direct proximity to those recordings.”

Teare is the author of five critically-acclaimed books, most recently Companion Grasses, a finalist for the Kingsley Tufts Award, and The Empty Form Goes All the Way to Heaven. His latest collection, Doomstead Days, is just out from Nightboat Books. 


Tongo Eisen-Martin will be working on a collection of poems investigating the modern socioeconomic crust of sites of historical struggle—understanding that a poet’s craft is both a ethereal and concrete social task. These poems will tease insight out of the dual resonance of post-industrial places where history appears more pronounced and the present is materially muted; but within the same observable moment, history also appears displaced from continuity when the present appears controlled by absentee victors (and not the people who struggled).

His collection will investigate the textures of modern resistance as they reveal themselves in modern conditions and be open to whatever the inquiry reveals (justifications for hope or dejection) for the artist as social protagonist in history.

Eisen-Martin is the author of someone’s dead already (Bootstrap Press, 2015), nominated for a California Book Award; and Heaven Is All Goodbyes (City Lights, 2017), which received a 2018 American Book Award and was shortlisted for the 2018 Griffin International Poetry Prize. He lives in San Francisco, California.

Cover Image: Imperial Household Agency of Japan via AP.

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Christina Davis is the curator of the Woodberry Poetry Room, Harvard University. She is the author of two poetry collections, AN ETHIC and FORTH A RAVEN, and the manuscript-in-progress, THE INTRABODY.

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