Dawn Lundy Martin

Acclaimed Poet, Critic, Essayist
Conceptual Video Artist & Performer
Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award Winner
Lambda Literary Award Winner

Readings &
Lecture Topics
  • On Discomfort and Creativity
  • The Material Nature of Poetry and Its Potential to Alter Reality
  • Genre and Genre Theory
  • Black Women and Radical Poetries
  • An Evening with Dawn Lundy Martin


“One of the many things I admire about Dawn Lundy Martin’s poetry is her potent ability to puzzle the reader without losing the reader. To puzzle is not the same as to baffle. When I am baffled, I throw up my hands. When I am puzzled, I look deeper. And this is what Martin’s speaker wants all of us to do, I daresay: to look deeper, to puzzle harder. “ —Lambda Literary

“An uncompromising poetics of resistance and exactitude.” —Judges Citation, Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award

Poet, critic, and essayist Dawn Lundy Martin is the author of four poetry collections and editor of two anthologies. Her book Good Stock Strange Blood (2017)—bold, formally innovative prose poems that challenge our ideas of race, voice, bodies, and justice—won the Kingsley Tufts Award. Life in a Box is a Pretty Box (2015), in which Martin investigates what is produced in the interstices between the body, experience, and language, and how alternative narratives can yield some other knowledge about what it means to be black (or female, or queer) in contemporary America, received the LAMBDA Award for Lesbian Poetry. DISCIPLINE (2011) won the Nightboat Books Poetry Prize, selected by Fanny Howe, and was a finalist for a Los Angeles Times Book Award. A Gathering of Matter / A Matter of Gathering (2007), won the Cave Canem Prize, selected by Carl Phillips. She has also published the limited edition chapbooks CandyThe Main Cause of the Exodus, and The Morning Hour. On Good Stock Strange Blood, Maggie Nelson wrote: “Dawn Lundy Martin’s poems read like a real-time excavation of what poetry can and can’t do; how the past is never past; how to stand in the blur, the ‘griefmouth’ of personal and collective pain, and somehow make thought, make fury, make song.”

She is the co-editor of the seminal anthology Letters to the Future: Black WOMEN / Radical WRITING (2018), hailed by Publisher’s Weekly as an “exceptional anthology, which operates like a master class in the variety and virtuosity of black women’s art,” and The Fire This Time: Young Activists and the New Feminism (2004), which uses a gender lens to describe and theorize young activist work in the U.S.

Martin is the co-founder of the Third Wave Foundation (New York), an organization, which was for 15 years the only young activist feminist foundation in the US. Martin continues her activist work in collaboration with foundations and activist organizations to research and strategize about protecting the lives and freedoms of women and girls. Using a intersectional lenses that bring together feminism with racial justice and LGBTQ rights, Martin works to provide analytical frameworks that assist philanthropic organizations in strategic philanthropy to level the playing field and animate social justice reforms.

Her current creative-scholarly work operates in the intersecting fields of experimental poetics, video installation, and performance. Her video installation work has been featured at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. Martin has also written a libretto for a video installation opera, titled “Good Stock on the Dimension Floor,” featured in the 2014 Whitney Biennial, and collaborated with architect Mitch McEwen on Detroit Opera House, a conceptual architecture project.

Her writing can be found in numerous publications, including The New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine, n+1, BOMB Magazine, and Brooklyn Rail. She is currently at work on a memoir.

Martin is the recipient of numerous awards including the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, the Cave Canem Prize, the Nightboat Books Poetry Prize, and the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Poetry. She has also been a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and has received grants and fellowships from NEA, The Poetry Society of America, the Pittsburgh Foundation, the Heinz Endowments, and the Whiting Foundation.

She is a Professor of English in the University of Pittsburgh’s Writing Program, where she also serves as the director of the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics (CAAP), which she co-founded with Terrance Hayes in 2016. She resides in Brooklyn, NY and Pittsburgh, PA.

Short Bio

Dawn Lundy Martin is a poet, essayist, and conceptual video artist. She is the author of four books of poems: Good Stock Strange Blood; Life in a Box is a Pretty Life; which won the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Poetry; DISCIPLINEA Gathering of Matter / A Matter of Gathering; and three limited edition chapbooks. Most recently, she co-edited with Erica Hunt an anthology, Letters to the Future: BLACK WOMEN / Radical WRITING. Her nonfiction can be found in The New Yorker, Harper’s, n+1, and elsewhere. Martin is a Professor of English in the writing program at the University of Pittsburgh and Director of the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics. She is the recipient of the 2019 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award.

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