Destiny O. Birdsong

Award-winning Novelist & Poet

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Lecture Topics
  • An Evening with Destiny O. Birdsong


“Birdsong’s poems reveal the ways that so many borders—nation, race, gender—are structured to maintain hierarchies of allegiance and care. The emergencies of the present are scored through with the fault lines of the past. Birdsong’s poems transform as they touch.” —The Paris Review

“The arrival of a voice we should all be paying attention to, one that thoughtfully and purposefully broadens our thinking about the interiority of Black women’s lives.” —Evette Dionne

“Full of wonder.” —Elizabeth Acevedo

Destiny O. Birdsong is a poet, novelist, and essayist. Her debut poetry collection, Negotiations (Tin House, 2020) was longlisted for the 2021 PEN/Voelcker Award. Throughout these poems, Birdsong writes fearlessly towards the question: what makes a self? Of these raw and powerful poems, Maya C. Popa says: “Birdsong debuts with an extraordinary string of immaculate, brutal narratives about systemic violence and racism, and their repercussions for Black American women.” In poems about tenderness as well the indictment of people and systems that attempt to narrow Black women’s lives, Birdsong writes a series of love letters to those women, who are often singled out for abuse and assault, silencing and tokenism, fetishization and cultural appropriation in ways that throw the rock, then hide the hand.

Birdsong’s debut novel, Nobody’s Magic (Grand Central Publishing, 2022) – which was longlisted for the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize, a finalist for the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence, and winner the 2022 Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction – is a searing meditation on grief, female strength, and self‑discovery. Set against a backdrop of complicated social and racial histories, Nobody’s Magic is a testament to the power of family—the ones you’re born in and the ones you choose. Across three narratives, among the yearning and loss, each of Birdsong’s characters finds a seed of hope for the future.

She has won the Academy of American Poets Prize and has received support from Cave Canem, Callaloo, Jack Jones Literary Arts, Pink Door, MacDowell, The Ragdale Foundation, and Tin House. Previously, she was the Hurston-Wright Foundation’s inaugural Writer-in-Residence at Rutgers University-Newark. Birdsong’s work has appeared in the Paris Review Daily, African American Review, and Poets & Writers, among other publications. She is a contributing editor of Poets & Writers Magazine.

She serves as a 2022-24 Artist-in-Residence at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.



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