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Syracuse University, College of Arts and Sciences

A&S Welcomes Distinguished Visiting Poet Nicole Sealey

Acclaimed poet will instruct graduate courses in creative writing.

Oct. 30, 2020, by Dan Bernardi

Nicole Sealey
Nicole Sealey (Photo by Rachel Eliza Griffiths)

The College of Arts and Sciences (A&S) welcomes renowned poet Nicole Sealey as the 2020-21 Distinguished Visiting Poet in the Department of English’s M.F.A. program in creative writing. This fall Sealey is teaching a graduate-level poetry forms class where students consider patience, an essential component of poetic composition, as practice. In the spring Sealey will instruct a graduate open poetry workshop. This marks a return to Syracuse University for Sealey, who took part in the 2018-19 Raymond Carver Reading Series.

Christopher Kennedy, professor of English and director of the M.F.A. program in creative writing says, “We’re very excited to have Nicole as our Distinguished Visiting Poet this year. She brings an impressive list of talents and accomplishments that will benefit our M.F.A. students tremendously.”

An acclaimed author, Sealey’s poetry book Ordinary Beast was a finalist for the PEN Open Book and Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards. It was also NPR’s most anticipated poetry book of 2017 and a top 10 poetry book for fall 2017 according to Publishers Weekly. Her book, The Animal After Whom Other Animals Are Named, was winner of the Drinking Gourd Chapbook Poetry Prize. Sealey’s work has also appeared in national publications including The New Yorker and The New York Times. Find a selection of Sealey’s poems at poets.org.

Sealey was recently a guest curator of that site’s “poem-a-day,” a daily series featuring new work by today’s poets. Sealey is also the founder of #TheSealeyChallenge, where participants read 31 poetry books in the 31 days of August. Readers are encouraged to share their progress and what they are reading on social media using the hashtag #TheSealeyChallenge.

According to Karin Ruhlandt, Dean of A&S, working with one of the nation’s leading poets presents a unique and valuable opportunity for M.F.A. students in A&S. “Nicole’s award-winning work and signature style, which addresses race, sexuality, gender and history, explore topics of importance to scholars today,” she says. “It is an honor to welcome her as a Distinguished Visiting Poet. All of us are grateful to the friends of creative writing whose generosity made Nicole’s return possible.”

Born in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, and raised in Apopka, Florida, Sealey holds an M.L.A. degree in Africana studies from the University of South Florida and an M.F.A. degree in creative writing from New York University. Her previous roles include: executive director at Cave Canem, a foundation cultivating the artistic and professional growth of Black poets; 2018-19 Doris Lippman Visiting Poet at The City College of New York; visiting professor at Boston University; and 2019-20 Hodder Fellow at Princeton University.