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Donika Kelly Receives National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship

Jan 10, 2023 to Dec 31, 2023
Donika Kelly

On January 10, the National Endowment for the Arts announced that Donika Kelly is one of 36 writers selected to receive an FY 2023 Creative Writing Fellowship of $25,000. This year’s fellowships are in poetry and enable the recipients to set aside time for writing, research, travel, and general career development. Fellows are selected through an anonymous review process and are judged on the basis of artistic excellence of the work sample they provided. These fellowships are highly competitive, with nearly 1,900 eligible applications received for FY 2023.  

“The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support this group of poets and provide them with the means to focus on their writing,” said the NEA’s Director of Literary Arts Amy Stolls. “Their poetry explodes with originality in form and content, offering powerful reflections on the pain and joy of our modern times.” 

Donika Kelly is the author of The Renunciations,winner of the Anisfield-Wolf book award in poetry, and Bestiary, the winner of the 2015 Cave Canem Poetry Prize, a Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and a Kate Tufts Discovery Award. Kelly’s poetry has been a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Publishing Triangle Awards, the Lambda Literary Awards, and longlisted for the National Book Award.  A Cave Canem graduate fellow and member of the collective Poets at the End of the World, she is also the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a Lannan Residency Fellowship, and a summer workshop fellowship from the Fine Arts Work Center. She earned an MFA from the University of Texas at Austin and a PhD in English from Vanderbilt University. Her poems have been published in The New YorkerThe AtlanticThe Paris Review, and elsewhere. Donika lives in Iowa City is an assistant professor in the English Department at the University of Iowa, where she teaches creative writing.  

Since 1967, the NEA has awarded more than 3,600 Creative Writing Fellowships totaling over $57 million. Many American recipients of the National Book Award, National Book Critics Circle Award, and Pulitzer Prize in Poetry and Fiction were recipients of National Endowment for the Arts fellowships early in their careers. 

Visit to browse bios and artist statements from all of the 2023 recipients and past Creative Writing Fellows.