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Announcing the 2021-2022 WPR Creative Fellowship and Grant

Jane Wong installation

The Woodberry Poetry Room is pleased to announce that the recipients of this year’s WPR Creative Fellowship are Diana Khoi Nguyen and Jane Wong for their collaborative project, “Radical Altars to Alter.”

It also gives us immense pleasure to announce that Jonathan C. Creasy has been selected as the recipient of this year’s WPR Creative Grant for his documentary-film project, “A Library of Voices: A Living History of Modern Poetry.”

The Poetry Room’s fellowship and grants program offers stipends to poets, artists, and scholars to undertake 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 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:

This project focuses on altar spaces as a speculative means to ‘alter’ the entangled past, present, and future. In this project, we endeavor to create radical altars as a space to honor and alter our relationship with our familial and literary lineage—conjuring joyful futurism.

Our project seeks to draw upon archival materials from Black, Indigenous, and People of Color poets at the Woodberry Poetry Room, along with our own personal archives and evocations. We plan on conducting extensive research in the Poetry Rooms’s audio-visual archive, learning from interdisciplinary poets invested in haunting and inheritance: such as Bhanu Kapil, Raul Zurita, M. NourbeSe Philip, Cecilia Vicuña, Layli Long Soldier, Douglas Kearney, Tracie Morris, Harmony Holiday, Tan Lin, Cathy Park Hong, Sawako Nakayasu, Natalie Diaz, Ocean Vuong, and John Keene. We also seek to further illuminate work from poets not yet included in the archives.

Our collaborative final project will consist of an on-site multimedia installation and public performance. For our installation, we plan to curate radical altars of evocative ephemera, conjuring voices across time and space. We envision these altars as both personal and collective; the altars themselves will gather numerous sensory-based materials, glowing with possibility…..

We hope to manifest what is unseen and should be acknowledged and honored; indeed, what is an altar if not a way of seeing, receiving, feeding, and holding that which is not physically present?

About the Recipients:

Poet and multimedia artist Diana Khoi Nguyen was born and raised in California. She is the author of the chaplet Unless (Belladonna*, 2019) and the poetry collection, Ghost Of (Omnidawn, 2018), which was awarded the the 2019 Kate Tufts Discovery Award and was a finalist for the National Book Award. Her poetry and prose have appeared widely in magazines and journals such as Poetry, American Poetry Review, and PEN America. In 2020, Nguyen collaborated with the Vietnamese diasporic women’s collective, She Who Has No Master(s), to produce a joint exhibit at the George S. & Dolores Doré Eccles Art Gallery in Salt Lake City. Currently, she teaches creative writing at Randolph College Low-Residency MFA and is an Assistant Professor at the University of Pittsburgh.

As a scholar, poet, essayist, and interdisciplinary artist, Jane Wong has been working on what she calls a “poetics of haunting” in Asian American studies through various modes, including the digital humanities component of her dissertation (www.poeticsofhaunting.com). Her poems can be found in places such as American Poetry Review, Poetry, AGNI and Third Coast, and her essays have appeared in McSweeney’s, Black Warrior Review, The Common and The Georgia Review. The recipient of the James W. Ray Distinguished Artist award for Washington artists, her first solo art show “After Preparing the Altar, the Ghosts Feast Feverishly” was exhibited at the Frye Art Museum in 2019. She is an Associate Professor of Creative Writing at Western Washington University.

About the Project:

The Library of Voices: A Living History of Modern Poetry is a documentary film, which draws on the breadth of the WPR’s collections, using audio-visual materials, original interviews, and sound and image design to explore the Woodberry Poetry Room’s history and contemporary significance. The film will focus on three figures associated with the WPR’s ninety-year history: Frederick C. Packard, Jr., John Lincoln Sweeney (with Stephen Fassett), and Seamus Heaney.

Narrated through new interviews with the current curator and a selection of contemporary American and international poets, the film will celebrate the Poetry Room’s history, giving viewers a sense of the institution’s importance in twentieth and twenty-first century poetry. Beyond that, it will explore the unique nature of a “library of voices”, where a living sound archive continues to influence contemporary poetics and shape literary futures.

About the Recipient:

Jonathan C. Creasy is a writer, filmmaker, musician, broadcaster, publisher, and educator, based in Dublin, Ireland. He is Editor-in-Chief at New Dublin Press, a reporter for The History Show on RTÉ Radio 1, producer and presenter of The Writers’ Room on 103.2 Dublin City FM, and an IRC Fellow in University College Dublin, where he lectures in English and Creative Writing.

Creasy is Co-Director of Dreamsong Productions, an independent Irish film company. He is Producer and Director of the forthcoming documentary feature film, An Inconvenient Masterpiece: Barry Guy’s The Blue Shroud; and the concert film, The Blue Shroud: Live in London (shot in the the Purcell Room, Southbank Centre as part of the London Jazz Festival). He is also the director of the experimental documentary, All Feathers Gone (based on the life and work of Mary Manning Howe).

Creasy’s writing has appeared or is forthcoming in The Irish Times, Poetry Ireland Review, Los Angeles Review of Books, the anthology, Writing Home: The New Irish Poets (Dedalus Press), and many other publications. He edited and introduced the anthology, Black Mountain Poems, for New Directions.

For more information about the WPR Creative Fellowship program, please visit: https://library.harvard.edu/libraries/poetryroom#fellowships.

(Cover photo: courtesy of Jane Wong/Frye Museum).

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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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