When Amanda Gorman read a stunning poem at the Presidential inauguration on January 20th, and followed it with another at the Super Bowl, the art of beauty of Poetry was suddenly thrust back in the spotlight. And now a Kalamazoo College associate professor has earned a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship for $25,000.

Oliver Baez Bendorf was selected from about 1,600 eligible applicants. A release says "Fellows are selected through a highly-competitive, anonymous process and are judged on the artistic excellence of the work sample they provided. The fellowships provide funding for recipients to write, revise, research and travel".

“I am honored and still in shock to have received this prestigious grant. The fellowship will help fund his work on a future collection of poems, including research travel when that becomes possible again after the pandemic. He hopes to go to Hessen, Germany, to visit the Ronneburg Castle, in which his father’s ancestors took refuge from religious persecution. The castle now houses festivals and a falconry center." - Kalamazoo College and NEA Fellow Oliver Baez Bendorf.

The school says Baez Bendorf is the author of two poetry collections. His most recent is "Advantages of Being Evergreen", was  published in 2019. The release quotes Jennifer Natalya Fink, a professor of English at George Washington University, describing the book as a “wild queer re-imagining of the potential of language to redress our past oppression and imagine new possibilities for gender, nature, and ecstasy.”

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