MSU’s Pierce sees talent honored with 2019 National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship

Catherine Pierce (Photo by Megan Bean)

Contact: Sasha Steinberg

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State Associate Professor of English Catherine Pierce is receiving a $25,000 Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Considered among nearly 1,700 eligible applications, this year’s 35 Fellows were selected through a highly competitive, anonymous process and were judged solely on the artistic excellence of the work sample provided. Fellowships alternate between poetry and prose each year, and this year’s awards specifically support poetry.

“A recent national survey shows reading poetry is making a comeback,” said Mary Anne Carter, NEA acting chairman. “The National Endowment for the Arts supports our nation’s poets and encourages a wide range of voices and styles.”

The full list of NEA Creative Writing Fellowship recipients is available at

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 said the fellowship is a “tremendous honor,” and she is grateful to the judges and NEA for this “really wonderful affirmation of my work.”

“I can already tell that I’m approaching my writing with new vigor and courage,” she said. “The fellowship also means more time and space in which to do that writing—to be able to devote more uninterrupted hours to that work is an invaluable gift. I’m so excited to discover the new material that comes out of this opportunity.” 

First published in the spring 2017 issue of The Gettysburg Review, Pierce’s poem “I Kept Getting Books About Birds” was included in the 43rd edition of “The Pushcart Prize: best of the Small Presses” anthology series.

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.

Pierce’s 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

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