The National Endowment for the Arts has awarded a $25,000 grant to Berry College Professor Sandra Meek for her poetry.
NEA officials recently gave away more than $1 million for 42 creative writing fellowships in poetry. Selected through an anonymous review process, the fellowships encourage the production of new works of literature by allowing writers the time and means to write. The Creative Writing Fellowships alternate annually between poetry and prose. This year, the NEA received 1,063 eligible applications; the 42 poets recommended each receive a fellowship of $25,000.
Meek was the only poet selected from Georgia and one of a handful in the Southeast.
“Our Creative Writing Fellowships represent one of the National Endowment for the Arts' most direct investments in American creativity,” said NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman.
Meek was granted a Fall 2011 sabbatical from Berry to finish her fifth book of poems entitled An Ecology of Elsewhere. This fifth book is also the project which earned her the NEA fellowship. Meek’s fourth book of poems, Road Scatter, is set to be published by Persea Books.
“We are thrilled for Dr. Meek and this well-deserved recognition of her fine work in the literary arts. We are proud to have such a distinguished poet as part of our faculty,” said English, Rhetoric and Writing Department Chair Lara Whelan. “Dr. Meek is an award-winning poet whose work is regularly published in some of the most selective literary journals in the country, in addition to her impressive record of success with publishing several collections of her work.”
Meek teaches creative writing and was recently promoted from associate to full professor. She earned her bachelor and master of fine arts degrees from Colorado State University and her doctoral degree from the University of Denver.
In 2006, she was awarded the Dorset Prize, the largest book-publication prize in poetry, for her collection of poems, Biogeography. Her other works include two other collections of her poetry, -Burn (2005) and Nomadic Foundations (2002).
The NEA grant will allow Meek to travel to southern Africa for inspiration.
“My writing is focused on place, and travel is an important part of that,” she said. “My current writing project involves travel to southern Africa, including to Botswana, where I was a Peace Corps volunteer some 20 years ago. Receiving the NEA means that I can extend my upcoming travel plans and the potential scope of the project.
“On another level, an NEA Fellowship offers a validation of my poetry that is both motivating and deeply gratifying. I am very grateful to the NEA for this endorsement and for this financial support of my work.”
Dean Tom Kennedy, of Berry’s Evans School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences said, “We are glad that our students have the opportunity to work with such an accomplished poet as Professor Sandra Meek and of course we are delighted that the National Endowment for the Arts has recognized the value of her contributions as author (and editor) of poetry. Professor Meek has been tireless in providing Berry students with access to contemporary poets of national stature.”