MSU English faculty member’s ‘big poet dream’ realized with Pushcart Prize

Contact: Sasha Steinberg

Catherine Pierce (Photo by Megan Bean)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—A Mississippi State faculty member with a passion and talent for creative writing is being honored with the prestigious Pushcart Prize.

“I Kept Getting Books About Birds,” a poem by Associate Professor of English Catherine Pierce, was first published in the spring 2017 issue of The Gettysburg Review, one of the country’s premier literary journals. Editors of The Gettysburg Review then nominated the poem for inclusion in the 43rd edition of “The Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses” anthology series.

Endowed and annually published since 1976 by Wainscott, New York-based nonprofit Pushcart Prize Fellowships Inc., the Pushcart Prize series has been hailed by Publishers Weekly as “one of the most important publishing projects in American history.” More than 70 new and established authors from more than 50 presses are included in the 2019 edition.

In addition to poetry, works eligible for nomination include short stories, essays, memoirs, stand-alone excerpt from novels, translations, reprints, as well as traditional and experimental writing.

“I’m really thrilled and honored to have a poem of mine selected for the Pushcart Prize,” Pierce said. “So many writers I admire have won Pushcarts over the years, and being part of the prize anthology has always been one of my big poet dreams.”

A native of Delaware, Pierce also serves as co-director of MSU’s creative writing program. She earned a Bachelor of Arts from Susquehanna University, Master of Fine Arts from Ohio State University, and doctorate from the University of Missouri.

Pierce has authored three books of poetry. They include “The Tornado Is the World (Saturnalia 2016), winner of the 2017 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Poetry Prize and 2015 Sustainable Arts Foundation Award; “The Girls of Peculiar (Saturnalia 2012), winner of the 2013 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Poetry Prize; and “Famous Last Words (Saturnalia 2008), winner of the Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize.

Her chapbook, “Animals of Habit,” was published in 2004 by Kent State University Press. Her poems also have appeared in The Best American Poetry, American Poetry Review, Slate, Boston Review and The Cincinnati Review, among many other publications. For more, visit

Learn more about MSU’s Department of English at and on Facebook and Twitter @MSStateEnglish.

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at