Nicole Sealey

Forward Prize
Former Executive Director of Cave Canem (2017-2019)

Readings &
Lecture Topics
  • Seeing is Believing: Drafting the Lasting Image
  • What is a Perfect Poem, and Why is it Brigit Pegeen Kelly’s “Song”
  • An Evening with Nicole Sealey

Biography

“Nicole Sealey is one of today’s most interesting poets. She steers us on a fantastic voyage through her infinitely brilliant mind.” —Essence Magazine

“A balm for and protectant against the hazards of modernity.” –Publishers Weekly

“Nicole Sealey is a poet for the ages.”
—Tracy K. Smith

Nicole Sealey was born in St. Thomas, United States Virgin Islands, and raised in Apopka, Florida. She is the author of Ordinary Beast (Ecco, 2017), which was a finalist for the PEN Open Book Award and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. Her chapbook, The Animal After Whom Other Animals are Named (Northwestern University Press, 2016), was the winner of the 2016 Drinking Gourd Chapbook Prize.

Sealey’s latest project, The Ferguson Report: An Erasure, is under contract with Knopf. Excerpts of the erasure have appeared in The Paris Review, The Nation, and Poetry London, while “Pages 22-29, an excerpt from Ferguson Report: An Erasure” won the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem in 2021.

In his review of Sealey’s debut full-length collection, Ordinary Beast, Hamilton Cain noted, “Ordinary Beast showcases a versatile artist as she plumbs an array of themes — racial injustice and gender marginalization — by appropriating forms popularized by dead white guys: Plutarch, Shakespeare, Donne. Her variations are vigorous, beguiling. Ordinary Beast is a triumph, and we can look forward to future spectacular work from this extravagantly gifted poet.” Claudia Rankine observes, “Though these poems are attuned to their own devastation, they continue unapologetically with their own aspirations.”

Sealey’s honors include the 2021 Forward Prize for Best Single Poem, the 2021 Granum Foundation Prize, a Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome, a Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University, the Stanley Kunitz Memorial and Poetry International Prizes, as well as fellowships from the Bogliasco Foundation, Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, CantoMundo, Cave Canem, The Hermitage Artist Retreat, MacDowell, the National Endowment and New York Foundation for the Arts, and the Poetry Project.

Sealey served as the Executive Director at Cave Canem Foundation from 2017–2019. She received an MFA from New York University and an MLA in Africana studies from the University of South Florida. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Short Bio

Nicole Sealey was born in St. Thomas, United States Virgin Islands, and raised in Apopka, Florida. She is the author of Ordinary Beast (Ecco, 2017), which was a finalist for the PEN Open Book and Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. Sealey’s chapbook, The Animal After Whom Other Animals are Named (Northwestern University Press, 2016), was the winner of the 2016 Drinking Gourd Chapbook Prize. In 2019, Sealey was named a 2019-2020 Hodder Fellow at Princeton University. She has received fellowships and awards from the American Academy in Rome, the Forward Foundation, CantoMundo, Cave Canem Foundation, the National Endowment and New York Foundation for the Arts, an Elizabeth George Foundation, among others. She was the Executive Director at Cave Canem Foundation from 2017–2019. Sealey lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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