Grant Recipients Cy Twombly Award for Poetry Poetry 2018

Anne Boyer

Close up portrait of Anne Boyer with brown straight hair, a side swept bang and green eyes, wearing a yellow scarf.
Photo by Cassandra Gillig.

It would be an understatement to say that the award from FCA was life changing, and yet those are the only words available to describe what the grant catalyzed in 2018. What your gift gave me was a certain amount of freedom and mobility, and as a result, I was able to take a leave of absence from my teaching job for 2018-2019. I had never lived outside of the American Midwest, but now I am writing to you from my flat behind the medieval walls of Peterhouse—Cambridge's oldest college, founded in 1284... I was able to visit the Lake District, where the British Romantic Poets Wordsworth and Coleridge centered their work, as well as travel throughout continental Europe for research, including a visit to Rome, Naples, and Palermo, and as I write this, I am preparing for a week in Athens. All of this helped me give a place to the literature that before this had always existed in the abstract to me, and as such helped deepen my own thinking about poetry and its relationship to history.

- Anne Boyer, December 22, 2018

Artist Statement

I write because I care about major questions and minor experiences, how history arranges feelings, space, and minutes, and also how our material circumstances and embodied particularities influence the ways we give these shape. So much of human life has never appeared in any books. I want to know why, also who or what, is responsible for this arrangement that gives one class an excessive relationship to the official account of our species and the overwhelming majority of people almost none at all. I'm interested in not just what history does to us, but in what we could do to history, ways to make the world that we haven't even thought of yet, and to what emancipatory processes new literatures and thinking could contribute. We all share an experimental terrain—that of being alive with other people in a common world—and poetry is our other, that of language, its only cost having been born into a human world and cared for by someone else. Poetry, because it is both the oldest thing and also that which tries to be the newest, is an ideal instrument for thinking outside of the received forms of thought and thinking into possibility that which seemed impossible before, which is why no matter what I am writing, I am always starting there.

- December 2017


Anne Boyer is a poet and essayist whose work explores the possibilities of literature as an instrument for thinking about experiences often excluded from literature, particularly those that gather around gender, class, labor, and illness.

Written after her diagnosis with highly aggressive cancer and in its disabling aftermath, The Undying (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2019) is a meditation upon cancer, care, and what it means to be sick inside of "information's dream"—our data-saturated moment in history. A Handbook of Disappointed Fate (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2018) is a collection of essays and fables about poetry, love, death, and other impossible questions. Boyer's published works of poetry include Garments Against Women (Ahsahta, 2015); My Common Heart (Spooky Girlfriend, 2011); and The Romance of Happy Workers (Coffee House Press, 2008).

Boyer is the recipient of the Community of Literary Magazines and Presses Firecracker Award in Poetry for Garments Against Women (2015). She is an Assistant Professor of Liberal Arts at the Kansas City Art Institute.