Carmen Gillespie is a professor of English and director and founder of the Griot Institute for Africana Studies at Bucknell University. In addition to many individual scholarly articles and poem publications, she is the author of the literary critical works, A Critical Companion to Toni Morrison (2007), A Critical Companion to Alice Walker (2011), and is the editor of Toni Morrison: Forty Years in the Clearing (2012). Carmen has also published a poetry chapbook, Lining the Rails (2008) and two poetry collections, Jonestown: A Vexation, which won the 2011 Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Prize, and The Blue Black Wet of Wood (2016), winner of Two Sylvia’s Wilder Series Poetry Prize. The titular poem of the latter collection was selected by Motionpoems for development by Sundance award-winning director, Malik Vitthal, for production as a film short, which premiered at the Walker Arts Center in Minneapolis in November of 2016.
Carmen’s awards include an Ohio Arts Council Individual Artist Fellowship for Excellence in Poetry and grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Mellon Foundation, the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. She is a Cave Canem Fellow and a Fulbright scholar. Essence magazine named Carmen one of its 40 favorite poets in commemoration of the magazine’s 40th anniversary. The Ghosts of Monticello: A Recitatif was a semi-finalist of the 2016 University of Akron Poetry Prize and a finalist of the 2016 Cleveland State, Open Book Poetry Prize and is the winner of the 2016 Stillhouse Press Poetry Contest. She shares her life with her wondrous daughters, Chelsea Gillespie and Delaney Bakst.