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Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowships

The Poetry Foundation and Poetry magazine are pleased to announce the five recipients of the 2018 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowships: Safia Elhillo, Hieu Minh Nguyen, sam sax, Natalie Scenters-Zapico, and Paul Tran. Among the largest awards offered to young poets in the United States, the $25,800 prize is intended to encourage the further study and writing of poetry and is open to all U.S. poets between 21 and 31 years of age.

Established in 1989 by Ruth Lilly, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship program has dramatically expanded since its inception. Until 1995, university writing programs nationwide each nominated one student poet for a single fellowship; from 1996 until 2007, two fellowships were awarded. In 2008, the competition was opened to all U.S. poets between 21 and 31 years of age, and the number of fellowships increased to five, totaling $75,000. In 2013, the Poetry Foundation received a generous gift from the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Memorial Fund to create the Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowships, which increased the fellowship amount from $15,000 to $25,800.

Safia Elhillo is the author of The January Children (University of Nebraska Press, 2017) and the chapbook The Life and Times of Susie Knuckles (2012). Sudanese by way of Washington, DC, she earned a BA from NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study and an MFA in poetry at the New School. Her work has appeared in several journals and anthologies, including The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop (2015) and Women of Resistance: Poems for a New Feminism (2018).

Elhillo was a founding member of Slam NYU, the 2012 and 2013 national collegiate championship team, and was a three-time member and former coach of the DC Youth Slam Poetry team. She is a Cave Canem fellow and serves as poetry editor of Kinfolks Quarterly.

Hieu Minh Nguyen is a queer Vietnamese American poet and performer based in Minneapolis. He is the author of the poetry collections Not Here (Coffee House Press, 2018) and This Way to the Sugar (Write Bloody Publishing, 2014), which was named a finalist for both the Lambda Literary Award and the Minnesota Book Award. His work has appeared on the PBS Newshour and in Poetry, Gulf Coast, BuzzFeed, Poetry London, Nashville Review, Indiana Review, among others. The recipient of a 2017 NEA fellowship for poetry, Nguyen is a Kundiman fellow, a poetry editor for Muzzle magazine, and an MFA candidate at Warren Wilson College.

sam sax is the author of the poetry collections bury it (Wesleyan University Press, 2018), winner of the James Laughlin Award, and madness (Penguin, 2017), winner of the National Poetry Series, selected by Terrance Hayes, and four chapbooks. He earned a BA from Oberlin College and an MFA in poetry from the University of Texas at Austin. He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Lambda Literary, and the MacDowell Colony.

sax is a two-time Bay Area Grand Slam Champion, and winner of the Gulf Coast Prize, the Iowa Review Award, and the American Literary Award. His poems have appeared in BuzzFeed, the New York Times, Poetry, Tin House, and other journals. sax serves as poetry editor of BOAAT Press.

Natalie Scenters-Zapico is the author of Lima :: Limón (Copper Canyon Press, forthcoming 2019) and The Verging Cities (Center for Literary Publishing, 2015). She earned a BA from University of Texas at El Paso and an MFA in poetry from the University of New Mexico. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Tin House, Indiana Review, Pleiades, Poetry, Gulf Coast, and The Believer, among others.

Scenters-Zapico has taught at the University of Nebraska—Lincoln, Westminster College, the University of Texas at El Paso, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award for Poetry, the Great Lakes Colleges Association Prize, the Utah Book Award, and the National Association of Chicano/a Studies Book Award. She has received a Lannan Literary Fellowship and has served as a CantoMundo Fellow.

Paul Tran earned a BA from Brown University and an MFA in poetry from Washington University. Their work appears in the New Yorker, Poetry, and elsewhere, including in the anthology Inheriting the War (W.W. Norton, 2017) and in the film Love Beats Rhymes (Lionsgate, 2017). Tran is the first Asian American since 1993 to win the Nuyorican Poets Cafe Grand Slam, and has placed in the top ten at the Individual World Poetry Slam and has earned ninth, fifth, and second place in three consecutive National Poetry Slams. They live in Missouri, where they are poetry editor at The Offing and the Chancellor’s Graduate Fellow in the Writing Program at Washington University in St. Louis. They are a 2018 “Discovery”/Boston Review Poetry Prize winner.

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About the Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship Program
Established in 1989 by Ruth Lilly to encourage the further writing and study of poetry, the Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Poetry Fellowship program has dramatically expanded since its inception. Until 1995, university writing programs nationwide each nominated one student poet for a single fellowship; from 1996 until 2007, two fellowships were awarded. In 2008 the competition was opened to all U.S. poets between 21 and 31 years of age, and the number of fellowships increased to five, totaling $75,000. In 2013, the Poetry Foundation received a generous gift from the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Memorial Fund to create the Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowships, which increased the fellowship amount from $15,000 to $25,800.

About Poetry Magazine
Founded in Chicago by Harriet Monroe in 1912, Poetry is the oldest monthly devoted to verse in the English-speaking world. Monroe’s “T.S. EliotEzra PoundMarianne MooreWallace StevensH.D.William Carlos Williams, Carl Sandburg, and other now-classic authors. In succeeding decades it has presented—often for the first time—works by virtually every major contemporary poet. In recent years, Poetry has been honored with three National Magazine Awards. It celebrated its centennial in 2012.

About the Poetry Foundation
The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, is an independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture. It exists to discover and celebrate the best poetry and to place it before the largest possible audience. The Poetry Foundation seeks to be a leader in shaping a receptive climate for poetry by developing new audiences, creating new avenues for delivery, and encouraging new kinds of poetry through innovative partnerships, prizes, and programs. Opened to the public in June 2011, the Poetry Foundation building in Chicago provides new space for the Foundation’s extensive roster of public programs and events. It also houses a public garden, a library, and an exhibition gallery as well as the offices of the Poetry Foundation and Poetry magazine.

Learn more about the foundation »

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