“[A]t the time that I wanted to write stories and had stories to write, I felt free to write them, thanks to the fellowship.”
The twentieth century has perhaps been the most dynamic period of American literary history to date. The Kenyon Review is proud of its influential role during this rich time period, when the journal was known for discovering, nurturing, and promoting new writers of significant talent. One way The Kenyon Review developed its reputation as a must-read for the literary audience of the time was establishing relationships with the best new writers through Fellowship awards. This tradition of fellowships at The Kenyon Review dates back to 1944, when the Rockefeller Foundation funded young critics to assist in editorial duties for the Review. The first Rockefeller Fellow was British critic Harold Whitehall, and his stipend was the first money ever paid by the Rockefeller Foundation to a literary magazine. Whitehall was followed by Eric Bentley, Charles Riker, and Robert Penn Warren, who was the fourth and final Rockefeller Fellow. The Rockefeller Fellows helped to shape the Review and influence the fiction, poetry, and criticism that the magazine published.
Beginning in 1952, through another grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, The Kenyon Review offered literary fellowships to writers, many of whom went on to become internationally recognized masters of their craft. Each year, the Review awarded fellowships in fiction, poetry, and criticism to such writers as Flannery O’Connor, W.S. Merwin, and James Wright giving them the financial freedom to devote themselves to writing. These fellowships played a pivotal role in allowing some of the most vital American writers of the past century to develop their voices, and with the new KR Fellowships, The Kenyon Review will continue its legacy of supporting excellent emerging writers.
In 2012, The Kenyon Review opened a new chapter of this tradition. By bringing the first recipients of the new Kenyon Review Fellowships to Gambier in the summer of 2012, we affirmed this ongoing aspect of our mission: to identify and support talented writers in the earlier stages of their careers. And for the first time, we also offered them significant opportunities to grow as teachers and editors as well.
The 2014-2016 Kenyon Review Fellows
Jamaal May is a poet and editor from Detroit, MI where he has taught poetry in public schools and worked as a freelance audio engineer and touring performer. His first full-length collection, Hum (Alice James Books, 2013), received the Beatrice Hawley Award and an NAACP Image Award nomination. Other honors include the 2013 Indiana Review Poetry Prize, a 2011-2013 Stadler Fellowship, and 2014-2016 Kenyon Review Fellowship. Jamaal’s poems appear in such publications as The New Republic, The Believer, Poetry, Ploughshares, Poetry Daily, and Best American Poetry. He co-edits the Organic Weapon Arts Chapbook and Video Series with Tarfia Faizullah.
Melinda Moustakis was born in Fairbanks, Alaska and raised in California. She received her MA from UC Davis and her PhD from Western Michigan University. Her book, Bear Down Bear North: Alaska Stories, won the Flannery O’ Connor Award and the Maurice Prize and was a 5 Under 35 selection by the National Book Foundation. Her work has appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, American Short Fiction, Kenyon Review, and elsewhere. She was a Hodder Fellow at Princeton University and received a 2014 NEA Literature Fellowship in Fiction. Her story “They Find the Drowned” won a 2013 PEN/ O. Henry Prize.
The 2012-2014 Kenyon Review Fellows
Elizabeth Lindsey Rogers received her BA in Creative Writing and Dance from Oberlin College and her MFA from Cornell University, where she was previously a lecturer in the English Department. As an Oberlin Shansi Fellow, she spent several years living in rural China, where she taught English and dance at an agricultural university. Her poems appear in Field, Agni Online, Seneca Review, Comstock Review, Crazyhorse, Pool, and on Poetry Daily, among others. Her first book of poetry, Chord Box, was published by the University of Arkansas Press in 2013.
Natalie Shapero received her MFA in Poetry from the Ohio State University in 2008 and her JD from the University of Chicago in 2011. Her poetry has been published in several journals and anthologies including The Kenyon Review, Poetry, The Believer, FIELD, and Best New Poets 2006. Her first book of poetry, No Object, was published by Saturnalia in 2013. She has been a Peter Taylor Fellow in the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop as well as a fellow in the Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop. Natalie Shapero was previously a fellow in First Amendment Litigation and civil rights advocacy with Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
Recipients of the original Kenyon Review literary fellowships:
- Edwin Watkins (1953)
- W.S. Merwin (1954)
- Edgar Collins Bogardus (1955)
- Douglas Nichols (1955)
- Ruth Stone (1956)
- Delmore Schwartz (1957)
- James Wright (1958)
- Theodore Henry Holmes (1958)
- Flannery O’Connor (1953, 1954)
- George Lanning (1954)
- Howard Nemerov (1955)
- Andrew Lytle (1956)
- James F. Powers (1957)
- Elizabeth Spencer (1957)
- Robie Macauley (1958)
- Irving Howe (1953)
- Richard W.B. Lewis (1954)
- Richard Ellmann (1955)
- Leslie Fiedler (1956)
- Theodore Hoffman (1956)
- Frances Fergusson (1957)
- Thomas Henry Carter (1958)