Southeastern Louisiana University English Instructor and nationally- recognized poet Alison Pelegrin has received a $34,000 Awards to Louisiana Artists and Scholars grant to fund the completion of her fifth poetry collection Feast Days. A sub-program of the Louisiana Board of Regents Support Fund’s Research and Development Program, ATLAS is designed to provide support for major scholarly and artistic productions with potential to have a broad impact on regional and/or national levels.
Poems from Pelegrin’s in-progress manuscript have appeared in top-tier journals, such as Image: Art, Faith, Mystery, The Southern Review, Tin House, and The Cincinnati Review.
“The Louisiana Board of Regents has granted me the triple crown – validation of my work, substantive financial support, and the precious resource of uninterrupted time to probe the issues I am writing and thinking about,” she said. “Reviewers have often noted the importance of Louisiana in my work, and for my beloved state to reward me in this way is a great honor. I am so grateful. I still can’t believe it is real.”
Pelegrin said Feast Days celebrates Louisiana and its cycle of destruction and rebirth on spiritual, political, racial, and environmental spectrums. Her work, she said, comes from a world of floods, of cars washed away, of fish swimming in streets and shoes bobbing in closets.
“I grew up in the shadow of New Orleans, on the West Bank of the Mississippi River, meaning that mansions and oak trees and seersucker society were just out of reach thanks to the barriers of water and wealth,” she said. “The tension of an outsider’s existence made my work spiritually rich, alive with the voice of lived experience. Poetry has never been more essential in a region that struggles to survive ecological and social catastrophes so often caricatured by outsiders with their drop-in scorn dressed up to look like concern.”
Pelegrin hopes to attend a two- to four-week residency at a writer’s colony and has plans to travel to more regional destinations, including Whitney Plantation, the Civil Rights Museum in Montgomery, Ala., and the sites where Confederate statues once stood.
Pelegrin is also the author of Waterlines, Hurricane Party, and Big Muddy River of Stars. In 2007, she was awarded a creative writing fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.