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EWL Hosts Poet Donika Kelly for annual Lit City Reading

September 20, 2019
  • Poet Donika Kelly
An intimate crowd gathered to hear Donika Kelly read from her full length poetry collection Bestiary, a catalogue of creatures–from the ordinary whale and ostrich to the fantastical pegasus and griffin. Many of the pieces shared and much of her work encompasses the exploration of love, self-discovery, and travel.

On Thursday, September 19, the English and World Literatures department sponsored its first big event of the year, the semi-annual Lit City fall reading, which brings published writers from the New York City area to campus. This fall, the Department was thrilled to bring featured poet Donika Kelly to MMC. Kelly read first from her collection Bestiary, copies of which incoming first-year students received over the summer. She also shared some of her other upcoming works in progress and took part in a Q&A with students. Kelly spoke about how the imaginary animals in Bestiary serve as a way to understand power, breakups, and boundaries. She also spoke on her process of revision, adding, “The first draft’s job is to capture something essential.” When asked why she writes poetry over prose she quipped, “I think analogously”, and then admitted to preferring brevity and compression. It was a fantastic and intimate conversation - thank you to all who made this memorable event happen, and to everyone who attended!

About the Author

Donika Kelly is the author of the chapbook AVIARIUM (fivehundred places 2017), and the full-length collection BESTIARY (Graywolf 2016), winner of the 2015 Cave Canem Poetry Prize, the 2017 Hurston/Wright Award for poetry, and the 2018 Kate Tufts Discovery Award. BESTIARY was long listed for the National Book Award (2016) and a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award and a Publishing Triangle Award (2017). A Cave Canem Graduate Fellow and recipient of a fellowship to the Fine Arts Work Center, Donika received her MFA in Writing from the Michener Center for Writers and a Ph.D. in English from Vanderbilt University. She is an Assistant Professor at Baruch College, where she teaches creative writing.