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Olayiwola Receives Academy of American Poets Fellowship

Porsha Olayiwola in lobby
Boston Poet Laureate and Emerson graduate student Porsha Olayiwola won a $50,000 grant through the Academy of American Poets to create community poetry projects in Boston. File photo

Porsha Olayiwola, Poet Laureate of Boston and an MFA candidate in Creative Writing at Emerson, was one of 23 Poets Laureate across the country to be named a Fellow by the Academy of American Poets, a designation that comes with a $50,000 grant to support work in their communities.

“As we face the crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more people are turning to poetry for comfort and courage,” Jennifer Benka, president and executive director of the Academy of American Poets said in a statement. “We are honored and humbled in this moment of great need to fund poets who are talented artists and community organizers, who will most certainly help guide their communities forward.”

In addition to the 23 fellows, the Academy will provide $75,500 to 13 non-profit organizations that have agreed to support the fellows’ projects.

Olayiwola is the author of the collection, i shimmer sometimes, too (Button Poetry, 2019), an Individual World Poetry Slam Champion, and is artistic director at MassLEAP, a literary youth organization.

Together with the Haley House in Roxbury, Olayiwola will run a reading and workshop series that culminates in an anthology reflecting the experiences of Boston residents. Olayiwola also will establish the Roxbury Poetry Festival, a day-long event with readings, panels, and performances, to be held Summer 2021.

The Academy is the largest financial supporter of poets in the country. The fellowship program is supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, through a $4.5 million award that will fund the program through 2022.

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