Mississippi Writer Awarded Guggenheim Fellowship

JACKSON, MISS. – June 22, 2020 – Oxford-based writer and University of Mississippi professor Aimee Nezhukumatathil has been named a Guggenheim Fellow. She joins a diverse group of 175 writers, scholars, artists and scientists to receive the prestigious honor this year from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. A past recipient of an artist fellowship from the Mississippi Arts Commission, Nezhukumatathil has published four collections of poetry.

In responding to the award, Aime Nezhukumatathil said, “This fellowship is the biggest honor of my career, and it means the world to me that it will allow me to write about the natural landscapes that have helped shape me, which of course now includes north Mississippi. My next project includes writings inspired by natural history and folklore and navigating what it means to help raise a half-Asian family in the American South. I want this work to encourage readers to become and remain stewards of the natural world in spite of increasing violence to each other and the outdoors.” 

Aimee Nezhukumatathil was born in Chicago to parents who emigrated from the Philippines and India. She received her MFA from Ohio State University. Nezhukumatathil is the author of Oceanic (Copper Canyon, 2018), winner of the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters award. Other books include Lucky Fish (Tupelo, 2011), At the Drive-in Volcano (Tupelo, 2007), and Miracle Fruit (Tupelo, 2003). With Ross Gay, she co-authored Lace & Pyrite (Organic Weapon Arts, 2014). Her debut work of nonfiction is a collection of illustrated nature essays, World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, & Other Astonishments (Milkweed Editions, September 2020).

As professor of English and Creative Writing in the University of Mississippi’s MFA program, Nezhukumatathil is the first active University of Mississippi faculty member to receive a Guggenheim Fellowship in nearly 70 years and the first ever faculty member of color to receive the award. She lives in Oxford with her husband, the writer Dustin Parsons, and their two young sons.

“Receiving a Guggenheim Fellowship is an incredible accomplishment, and we could not be prouder of Aimee for this achievement,” said Malcolm White, executive director of Mississippi Arts Commission. “Congratulations to her. We look forward to reading more of her brilliant poetry and watching her career blossom.”

Since its establishment in 1925, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation has granted more than $375 million in Fellowships to more than 18,000 individuals, among whom are scores of Nobel laureates, Fields Medalists, poets laureate, members of the national academies, winners of the Pulitzer Prize, Turing Award, Bancroft Prize, National Book Award, and many other internationally recognized honors.

Created by Senator Simon and Olga Guggenheim in memory of their son, the Guggenheim Fellowship program remains a significant source of support for artists, scholars in the humanities and social sciences, and scientific researchers.

Contact:  Anna Ehrgott | Communications Director | aehrgott@arts.ms.gov | (601) 359-6546