Foundation News

Congrats to the 2017 Ruth Lilly & Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellows

By Harriet Staff
Black and white collage of the 2017 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship recipients: Fatimah Asghar, Sumita Chakraborty , Cortney Lamar Charleston, Roy G. Guzmán, and Emily Jungmin Yoon.

Late last week, we found out the names of the poets who will make up the class of 2017 for this year's Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellows. And now, we at Harriet would like to officially congratulate and recognize the work of Fatimah Asghar, Sumita Chakraborty, Cortney Lamar Charleston, Roy G. Guzmán, and Emily Jungmin Yoon. Each fellow will be awarded $25,800, which is intended to encourage the further study and writing of poetry. The annual award is open to all U.S. poets between twenty-one and thirty-one years of age. About the fellowship and this year's fellows, our own editor of Poetry, Don Share, says:

In a year during which some readers have asked "Why poetry?" here are poets whose work not only provides a powerful answer, but demonstrates that the present—and future—of poetry have never been in such fine hands. A deviser of an Emmy-nominated web series, a PhD student in East Asian languages and civilizations, a poetry editor and scholar of literature, a graduate of the Wharton School, and a human rights researcher—this year’s Lilly/Rosenberg Fellows are remarkably talented on and off the page, each an embodiment of what Czesław Miłosz meant when he said that poetry "is a dividend from what you know and what you are."

A little about the award:

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 US poets between twenty-one and thirty-one 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.

And now it's time to learn a little about this year's fellows:

Fatimah Asghar is a nationally touring poet, screenwriter, educator, and performer. Her work has appeared in many journals, including PoetryGulf Coast, BuzzFeed Reader, The Margins, The Offing, Academy of American Poets, and many others. Her work has been featured on news outlets like PBS, NPR, Time, Teen Vogue, Huffington Post, and others. In 2011 she created a spoken word poetry group in Bosnia and Herzegovina called REFLEKS while on a Fulbright studying theater in post-genocidal countries. She is a member of the Dark Noise Collective and a Kundiman Fellow. Her chapbook After, published by YesYes Books, came out in fall 2015. She is the writer and co-creator of the Emmy-nominated Brown Girls, a web series that highlights friendships between women of color. Brown Girls is currently being developed for TV by HBO. Her debut book of poems, Today We’re American, is forthcoming from One World/Random House.

Sumita Chakraborty is poetry editor of AGNI and art editor of At Length, and a doctoral candidate in English at Emory University, where she is currently a Dissertation Completion Fellow at the Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry. Her poems, essays, and criticism have appeared or are forthcoming in PoetryBoston Review, the Los Angeles Review of BooksCultural Critique, and other publications. She holds a BA from Wellesley College, hails from Boston, and currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

Cortney Lamar Charleston is the author of Telepathologies, selected by D.A. Powell for the 2016 Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize. He has received fellowships from Cave Canem, The Conversation Literary Festival, and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. His poems have appeared in Poetry, New England Review, Gulf Coast, TriQuarterly, River Styx, and elsewhere. He is originally from the Chicago suburbs and completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

Roy G. Guzmán was born in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and raised in Miami, Florida. He is the recipient of a 2017 Minnesota State Arts Board Initiative grant and the 2016 Gesell Award for Excellence in Poetry. Roy’s work has appeared or will appear in PoetryMeridianJet Fuel ReviewJukedWinter Tangerine, Superstition Review, and has been anthologized in IMANIMAN: Poets Writing in the Anzaldúan Borderlands (Aunt Lute Books) and The Wandering Song: Central American Writing in the United States (Tia Chucha Press). After the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, Roy’s poem, “Restored Mural for Orlando,” was turned into a chapbook with the help of artist D. Allen to raise funds for the victims. Roy holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Minnesota and is currently pursuing a PhD in the Department of Cultural Studies & Comparative Literature at the University of Minnesota.

Emily Jungmin Yoon is the author of Ordinary Misfortunes, the 2017 winner of the Sunken Garden Chapbook Prize by Tupelo Press, selected by Maggie Smith. Her first full-length collection, A Cruelty Special to Our Species, is forthcoming from Ecco in 2018. She has received awards and fellowships from the Ploughshares Emerging Writer’s Contest, AWP’s WC&C Scholarship Competition, Aspen Words, The Home School in Miami, New York University, the University of Chicago, and the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund/Money for Women. Her poems and translations have appeared or are forthcoming in the New Yorker, Poetry, Columbia Journal Online, Pinwheel, and elsewhere. She currently serves as the poetry editor for The Margins, the literary magazine of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, and is a PhD student studying Korean literature in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago.

Congratulations to all! Tune in later this fall to read a portfolio of poetry by the five fellows.