Established in 1989, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship has monetarily awarded accomplished US poets between the ages of 21 and 31 to encourage their continued study of writing and poetry. At its inception, two fellowships in the amount of $15,000 were awarded. Following a 2013 gift from the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Memorial Fund, the fellowship amount increased to $25,800 and the number of fellows increased to five.

“They are not only gifted writers,” Poetry magazine editor Don Share said of the 2015 fellows, who were announced at the beginning of this month, “but also keen educators, activists, leaders in their communities. Each of these distinctive and skillful people, both at and away from the writing desk, is devoted to illuminating us in significant and inspiring ways.”  

We celebrate the following fellows in particular and encourage you to congratulate them by reading and supporting their work.


Nate Marshall

Nate Marshall’s first book, Wild Hundreds (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015), won the Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize. He is a coeditor of The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop (2015). He is a visiting assistant professor at Wabash College, a founding member of the Dark Noise poetry collective and a Cave Canem fellow. His work has appeared in Poetry, Indiana Review and The New Republic among other publications. He was the star of the award-winning documentary Louder Than a Bomb and has been featured in the HBO original series Brave New Voices. Marshall received the 2014 Hurston/Wright Founding Members Award for College Writers and the 2013 Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Award.


Safiya Sinclair

Safiya Sinclair was born and raised in Montego Bay, Jamaica and earned her MFA in poetry at the University of Virginia. Her first full-length collection, Cannibal (University of Nebraska Press, 2016), won the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry. Her poems have appeared in or will soon appear in Poetry, Prairie Schooner, the Cincinnati Review, the Journal, Sonora Review and more. She is the recipient of a writing fellowship from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, an Emerging Writer Fellowship from Aspen Summer Words, an Amy Clampitt Residency Award and an Academy of American Poets Prize. She is currently pursuing a PhD in literature and creative writing at the University of Southern California, where she is a Dornsife doctoral fellow, according to the Poetry foundation.


Jamila Woods

Poet, singer and teaching artist Jamila Woods has been called “a modern-day Renaissance woman” by the Chicago Sun-Times. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee and her poetry has been published by MUZZLE, Third World Press and Poetry magazine. She is the associate artistic director of Young Chicago Authors (she lives in the city) and a founding member of its Teaching Artist Corps. Like Marshall, Woods is also a member of Dark Noise, a collective of poets and educators of color. She is the frontwoman of the Chicago-based soul music duo M&O. 

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