December 17, 2010
Holly Iglesias, poet, translator and lecturer in UNC Asheville's Master of Liberal Arts Program, has been awarded a prestigious Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Iglesias is the only North Carolinian and one of only 42 poets chosen nationally to receive the $25,000 fellowship for 2011. The NEA received 1,063 eligible applications for the fellowship, which alternates annually between poetry and prose.
In accepting the NEA award, Iglesias described the fellowship as "a kiss, an embrace, a dare… and the mandate to keep writing." She says she will use the funding to support and expand the work she is best known for, prose poems based on historical events. "Because the work is its own reward, the NEA fellowship is icing (thick butter cream) on a three-layer chocolate cake," says Iglesias. "The poems have been graced upon me; they come and go. My job continues to be staying awake and opening the door when they arrive."
Iglesias' prose poetry collection "Souvenirs of a Shrunken World" (Kore Press, 2008), won the publisher's First Book Award. In "Souvenirs," Iglesias focused on small details and assumed the perspectives of ordinary people to bring the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair back to life, and with it, insight into what it must have felt like to experience the dawn of grand, modern technology. One example is "New Moon," in which Iglesias took on the inner voice of a pre-teen: "…Twelve, I am twelve, and I will act the lady. Take ice cream in a dish and touch door knobs only with my hanky. I will ride the Wheel, once, and no screaming… They say that night is brighter than day at the Fair. That women swoon at the sights. But I shall keep my eyes open…"
Of mixed heritage that she describes as "German, Irish, Midwestern, Yankee and Cuban," Iglesias is bilingual and has translated the works of Cuban poet Caridad Atencio. Iglesias spent her younger adult years among Miami's Cuban exiles, and plans to revisit that community and explore its sense of nostalgia through her next writing project. Entitled "Walking to Cuba," Iglesias says it will consider "the impossibility of return to an imaginary island, the Cuba before Castro." In another upcoming writing project, Iglesias will again focus on the world as it was in the mid-1950s, recalling through prose poems, the culture and mindset of the Cold War era.
Iglesias is also the author of the poetry collection "Angles of Approach" (White Pine Press, 2010), the critical study "Boxing Inside the Box: Women's Prose Poetry" (Quale Press, 2004), and the chapbooks "Hands on Saint," and "Good Long Enough." Her work has also appeared in Prairie Schooner, The Prose Poem, Arts & Letters, Barrow Street, Margie, Crab Orchard Review, Massachusetts Review and Spoon River Poetry Review.
In 2009, Iglesias received the North Carolina Arts Council fellowship in poetry. She is also the recipient of fellowships from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the Edward Albee Foundation. She earned a Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Humanities from Florida State University and a master's degree in History from the University of Miami.