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Season 3, Episode 3: Poet Donika Kelly

Donika Kelly won the 2022 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award prize in poetry for “The Renunciations” – a response to the ending of a marriage and to remaking meaning from childhood suffering. Born in Los Angeles, her first collection, “Bestiary,” was selected for the 2015 Cave Canem prize.

Anisfield-Wolf Juror Rita Dove lauded “The Renunciations”: “Several mini-sequences are woven throughout; their periodic reappearance – the “Dear –” erasures, Self-Portraits, Sightings, Oracles – acts as a subtle yet devastating reminder of the cycle of violence. I returned to Kelly’s book, and she set me gasping anew. This is poetry of the highest order.”

Kelly joined The Asterisk* in February of 2023 in Iowa City, Iowa where she is a professor of creative writing at the University of Iowa, and lives with her wife, the writer Melissa Febos. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Southern Arkansas University, a master’s from the University of Texas and her doctorate from Vanderbilt University.

View a transcript of this episode