Marilyn Nelson

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Marilyn Nelson
Marilyn nelson 0952.JPG
Born (1946-04-26) April 26, 1946 (age 71)
Cleveland, Ohio
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 the author or translator of twelve books and three chapbooks. From 1978 to 1994 she wrote books as Marilyn Nelson Waniek.[1]

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 was brought up living 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.[2]


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 2001–2006.[3]

Her poetry collections include The Homeplace (Louisiana State University Press), which won the 1992 Anisfield-Wolf Award and was a finalist for the 1991 National Book Award; and The Fields Of Praise: New And Selected Poems (Louisiana State University Press), which won the 1998 Poets' Prize and was a finalist for the 1997 National Book Award.[2][4] Her honors include two NEA creative writing fellowships, the 1990 Connecticut Arts Award, a Fulbright Teaching Fellowship, and a 2001 Guggenheim Fellowship.[5] In 2011, she spent a semester as a Brown Foundation Fellow at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee.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.[7]

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 Euripedes, in Euripedes 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

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. NSK Neustadt Prize for Children’s Literature, 2017.[8]


External links[edit]