Grant Recipients Grants to Artists Poetry 2024

Lillian-Yvonne Bertram

Lillian-Yvonne Bertram is turned and looking towards their right. She is in sharp focus against a dark gray backdrop, wearing a high collared black coat.
Photo by Arianne Mathiowetz.
  • 2024 Grants to Artists
  • Poetry
  • Poet, Artist, Professor
  • Born White Plains, NY
  • She/Her, They/Them
  • Additional Information

Artist Statement

Writing is inquiry. My writing practice is guided by my fascinations and interests, when, where, and however they arise. I am interested in the intersections of the innovative and experimental with aspects of race, gender, and the more-than-human world. My work is grounded in inquiry, ways of knowing, and how language can (and cannot) communicate experiences felt in body and mind. Even at its most cerebral my work is centered in notions of embodiment and the lived experience of seeing and being seen. I strive for each project to be different from the last, and see all my work, all my books, in conversation with each other, to be taken as parts of a whole in progress.

- December 2023


Lillian-Yvonne Bertram is a poet and artist who explores innovative and experimental writing techniques. Her writing incorporates computation and artificial intelligence alongside more conventional literary forms, with her interdisciplinary work often investigating the intersections of race, gender, and coming of age in late capitalism. 

Bertram’s book Negative Money (Soft Skull Press, 2023) focuses on money and the different forces at play pertaining to personal cost and indebtedness—race and gender bias, intimate relationships, microaggressions, and various other forms of precarity—through poetry that features received forms, line graphs, artificial intelligence, and visual poems. Negative Money was a finalist for the 2023 New England Book Award in Poetry.

Travesty Generator (Noemi Press, 2019), is a book of computational poetry that uses open-source computer codes to generate poems that meditate on the relationship between anti-Blackness and computational determinism. It explores the ways in which anti-Blackness is “hard-coded” into society, politics, and various technologies, becoming predictors and determiners for race and race-related oppression and exclusion, such as red lining and credit codes. Travesty Generator was longlisted for the 2020 National Book Award for Poetry and was a finalist for the 2018 National Poetry Series Competition. It was the winner of the 2018 Noemi Press Poetry Contest and the 2020 Anna Rabinowitz Prize through Poetry Society of America. 

Bertram’s other works include How Narrow My Escapes (New Michigan Press, 2019), Personal Science (Tupelo Press, 2019), a slice from the cake made of air (Red Hen Press, 2015), and But a Storm is Blowing from Paradise (Red Hen Press, 2012). They have been recognized as the co-recipient of a Live Arts Boston grant from the Boston Foundation (2021), a Mass Cultural Council Artist Fellow in Poetry (2020), and a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellow in Creative Writing (2015). 

Bertram received her Ph.D. from The University of Utah, an M.F.A. in Poetry from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and a B.A. in Hispanic studies and creative writing from Carnegie Mellon University. They direct the M.F.A. program in Creative Writing at the University of Maryland. 

Visual video for "It took me all those years to remember who I was and why" from Negative Money, Soft Skull Press, 2023.

"The Grains of Ascendancy" from Negative Money, Soft Skull Press, 2023.

Visual for "Raw Girl Money" from Negative Money, Soft Skull Press, 2023.