Rita Mae Reese
Poet and fiction writer Rita Mae Reese was born and raised in Charleston, West Virginia. She is the author of the poetry collections The Book of Hulga (2016), which won the Felix Pollak Prize, and The Alphabet Conspiracy (2011), which won the 2012 Drake Emerging Writers Award.
Informed by her work for the Dictionary of American Regional English, Reese’s poems move both within and against the constraints of the English language. In a 2011 NewPages review, Alissa Fleck observed, “Rita Mae Reese’s The Alphabet Conspiracy is a book replete with anecdotes and snapshots of memory, ranging in subject matter from the religious to the informatively historical to the contemporary, which thoroughly [explores] both the whimsy and restrictions of language.” In an online statement for the literary journal Anti-, Reese stated, “I'm against poems that aren't against anything. Poems that only have one mind (or fewer). Poems that go in one direction only. I'm even more against poems that go very slowly in one direction. I'm against poetry that's never smoked, can't take a joke and can't remember my name.”
Reese’s poetry has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and work of hers is featured in Robert Olen Butler’s From Where You Dream: The Process of Writing Fiction (2005) and Poetry From Sojourner: A Feminist Anthology (2004). Her honors include a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, the Paumanok Poetry Award, a Wallace Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University, and a Discovery/the Nation award.
Reese lives in Madison, Wisconsin.