Friday, December 19, 2008

Helen Frost NEA Poetry Fellow

I’m excited to share a bit of poetry news—Helen Frost, author of Keesha’s House, Spinning through the Universe, The Braid, and this year’s Diamond Willow (a 2009 Texas “Lone Star” list book), has been awarded a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship in Poetry! (There were 42 applications accepted out of 1000 applications submitted this year.) What a victory for children’s poets, since most of these awards go to writers of poetry for adults.

She used The Braid both as her eligibility-establishing publication and as her work sample. When I asked her about her plans for the coming Fellowship year, she responded:

"In my novel-in-poems, The Braid, published in 2006 (Frances Foster Books / Farrar, Straus and Giroux), I wrote poems in the voices of two sisters who were separated during the Highland Clearances in 1850, one going to Cape Breton, Canada and the other staying on the Isle of Barra, in the Western Isles. Readers often ask me if the sisters were ever re-united. I would like to explore the idea that six or seven generations later, the descendants of the two sisters meet, perhaps by an American going to Barra. The American, and possibly the resident of Barra too, would be of mixed heritage, bringing many cultural influences to the meeting."

Wouldn’t that be terrific? I reviewed The Braid two years ago (July 19, 2006 New: THE BRAID), and just loved it. It was one of my favorite poetry books of 2006, in fact.

Helen also reported, “Once a fellowship is awarded, you're allowed to use it in any way you want to (you're not bound by the project you proposed in the application, because of course writing takes a lot of unpredictable twists and turns). But, surprisingly, this is a pretty accurate description of what I'm working on now; it will be a YA novel-in-poems--I am really looking forward to the uninterrupted writing time this fellowship will allow me in 2009.”

Here's the Web site for a listing of all the poetry recipients. As far as I can see, she is the ONLY poet writing for young people to receive this distinction. She'll receive $25,000 to support a "creative writing fellowship." Congratulations, Helen!

Join the rest of the Poetry Friday crowd at Author Amok.

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Mary Lee said...

YAY for a children's poet! She's SO deserving. I am still in awe of Diamond Willow!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Sylvia, for sharing my excitement, and thank you, Mary Lee, for your kind words!

Sylvia Vardell said...

You bet! Glad to help spread the word. :-)