Marilyn Nelson

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Marilyn Nelson
Marilyn nelson 0952.JPG
Born (1946-04-26) April 26, 1946 (age 72)
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
Occupation Professor
Nationality American
Alma mater University of California-Davis;
University of Pennsylvania;
University of Minnesota
Genre Poetry

Marilyn Nelson (born April 26, 1946) is an American poet, translator, and children's book author. She is a professor emeritus at the University of Connecticut and the former poet laureate of Connecticut.[1] From 1978 to 1994 she published under the name Marilyn Nelson Waniek.[2]

Early life[edit]

Nelson was born on April 26, 1946 in Cleveland, Ohio, to Melvin M. Nelson, a U.S. serviceman in the Air Force, and Johnnie Mitchell Nelson, a teacher. She grew up on military bases, and began writing while in elementary school. She earned a B.A. from the University of California-Davis, an M.A. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1970, and a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in 1979.[3]


She is a professor emeritus of English at the University of Connecticut and the founder and director of Soul Mountain Retreat. She was poet laureate of the State of Connecticut from 2001 to 2006.[3]

Her poetry collections include The Homeplace (Louisiana State University Press), which won the 1992 Anisfield-Wolf Award[4] and was a finalist for the 1991 National Book Award;[3] and The Fields Of Praise: New And Selected Poems (Louisiana State University Press), which won the Poets' Prize in 1999[4] and was a finalist for the 1997 National Book Award. Her honors include two NEA creative writing fellowships, the 1990 Connecticut Arts Award, a Fulbright Teaching Fellowship, and a 2001 Guggenheim Fellowship.[3] In 2011, she spent a semester as a Brown Foundation Fellow at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee.[5] In 2012, the Poetry Society of America awarded her the Frost Medal.[6] In 2013, Nelson was elected a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.[3]

Published works[edit]

Poetry books
  • She-Devil Circus (Aralia Press, 2001)
  • Triolets for Triolet (Curbstone Press, 2001)
  • Partial Truth (The Kutenai Press, 1992)
  • The Freedom Business: Connecticut Landscapes Through the Eyes of Venture Smith (Lyme Historical Society, Florence Griswold Museum, 2006, illustrated by American paintings from the Florence Griswold Museum)
Collaborative books
  • Miss Crandall’s School for Young Ladies and Little Misses of Color (Wordsong, 2007, with Elizabeth Alexander, illustrated by Floyd Cooper, ISBN 978-1-59078-456-3)
  • Pemba’s Song: A Ghost Story (Scholastic Press, 2008, with Tonya Hegamin)
  • The Cat Walked Through the Casserole (Carolrhoda Books, 1984, with Pamela Espeland, various illustrators)
  • The Ladder by Halfdan Rasmussen (translated from Danish, Candlewick, 2006, illustrated by Pierre Pratt)
  • The Thirteenth Month by Inge Pedersen (translated from Danish, Oberlin College Press, 2005)
  • Hecuba by Euripides, in Euripides I, Penn Greek Drama Series (translated from earlier English translations, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1998)
  • Hundreds of Hens and Other Poems for Children by Halfdan Rasmussen (translated from Danish, Black Willow Press, 1982, with Pamela Espeland, illustrations by D.M. Robinson)
Books for young children
In Anthology

Ghost Fishing: An Eco-Justice Poetry Anthology (University of Georgia Press, 2018)

Honors and awards[edit]

Kent fellowship, 1976; National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, 1981, 1990; Connecticut Arts Award, 1990; National Book Award finalist for poetry, 1991; Annisfield-Wolf Award, 1992; Fulbright teaching fellowship, 1995; National Book Award finalist for poetry, 1997; Poets' Prize, 1999, for The Fields of Praise: New and Selected Poems; Contemplative Practices fellowship, American Council of Learned Societies, 2000; named Poet Laureate for the State of Connecticut, Connecticut Commission on the Arts, 2001; J.S. Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellowship, 2001; Boston Globe/Horn Book Award and National Book Award finalist in young-people's literature category, both 2001, and Coretta Scott King Honor Book designation, Flora Stieglitz Straus Award for Nonfiction, and Newbery Honor designation, all 2002, all for Carver: A Life in Poems; Coretta Scott King Book Award, 2005, for Fortune's Bones: The Manumission Requiem; two Pushcart prizes; Michael L. Printz Award honor book designation, Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award honor book designation, and Coretta Scott King Honor Award, all 2006, all for A Wreath for Emmett Till; Lifetime Achievement honor, Connecticut Book Awards, 2006,[7] NSK Neustadt Prize for Children’s Literature, 2017.[8]


  1. ^ "Marilyn Nelson". Poetry Foundation. Retrieved October 1, 2017. 
  2. ^ "Nelson, Marilyn, 1946-". Library of Congress. Archived from the original on December 12, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "Marilyn Nelson". Academy of American Poets. Retrieved October 1, 2017. 
  4. ^ a b "African American recipients of poetry prizes, awards (1987-2015)". Cultural Front. Retrieved October 1, 2017. 
  5. ^ "Brown Foundation Fellows". Sewanee: The University of the South. Retrieved October 1, 2017. 
  6. ^ "Announcing the 2012 Frost Medalist, Marilyn Nelson". Poetry Society of America. Retrieved October 1, 2017. 
  7. ^ "Nelson, Marilyn 1946- (Marilyn Nelson Waniek)". - Contemporary Authors. Gale. 2009. 
  8. ^ "Marilyn Nelson Announced as 2017 NSK Neustadt Prize for Children's Literature Winner - The Neustadt Prize". The Neustadt Prize. 2016-10-30. Retrieved 2017-07-24. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]