Professor receives Al Smith Individual Artist Fellowship for poetry
September 2, 2010 By Leigh Ivey
Fellowship for excellence and creativity from the Kentucky Arts
Council. The fellowship will be used for the completion of her
third book of poetry, Strum Hollow.
Centre College associate professor of English and director of creative writing Lisa Williams has received a Kentucky Arts Council Al Smith Individual Artist Fellowship for excellence and creativity. The fellowship is a $7,500 award to be used towards the completion of an artistic project, which will be Williams’ third book of poems.
“I feel honored by this award,” Williams says, “and I continue to be grateful for the support and encouragement I’ve received—from Centre College and now from the Kentucky Arts Council—for my poetry writing. It makes me feel terrific to feel the support of the community around me.”
Williams will use the award to complete her third book of poems, a collection titled Strum Hollow. “That’s the name of the carved-out place in the fingerboard of a mountain dulcimer over which the strings are played,” Williams explains.
She says that her poetry continues to center on the “ocean, female adolescence and coming to terms with violence and beauty in the world. Music is also a source of inspiration; I recently wrote a sonnet about the music of Thelonious Monk, the jazz pianist and composer, whose weirdly gorgeous compositions and improvisational playing have been influencing the sounds in my own poems.”
She adds that she continues discovering her own “music” as a poet, a process she calls both challenging and exciting.
The Al Smith Individual Artist Fellowship is one of several awards Williams has received for her work. Her poetry collection Woman Reading to the Sea, published in 2008 by W. W. Norton, was selected by Joyce Carol Oates for the 2007 Barnard Women Poets Prize. Published in 1998, The Hammered Dulcimer won the May Swenson Poetry Award. And in 2004, Williams was awarded the Rome Prize in Literature by the American Academy of Arts and Letters.