UI professor awarded fellowship from Poetry Foundation

University of Iowa professor Jane Huffman received a fellowship from the Poetry Foundation recognizing her for her talent and work as a young poet.


Emily Wangen

University of Iowa Proffesor, Jane Huffman poses for a portrait on Tuesday, Sept. 24th, 2019. Huffman received the Ruth Lilly and Dorthy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation.

Kelsey Harrell, News Reporter

The Poetry Foundation has celebrated poetry as a writing form for 30 years. As part of its celebration, the foundation annually awards fellowships to young emerging poets.

“I feel extremely lucky to be seen by the Poetry Foundation, who have always held poetry up as a necessary part of the modern world,” University of Iowa Professor Jane Huffman said.

Huffman received the Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation for her work as a young poet.

The fellowship, worth approximately $25,800, will provide Huffman the opportunity to take her time working on her manuscripts without worrying about financial issues.

Huffman is working on her first manuscript titled Dilemma, a collection of poems having to do with the emotional world against the intellectual word, she said.

“I like dichotomy, and I like order and chaos,” Huffman said. “So when I say ‘Dilemma,’ that’s kind of what I mean — there’s a lot of contrasting forces in the book.”

Her work usually focuses on topics such as mental illness, specifically anxiety and issues with femininity and what it means to her. She also frequently paints images of rural and Midwestern landscapes through her poems and references horses in her pieces.

Huffman said she plans to use the fellowship to have more financial freedom to focus on her work and spend time reading to get inspiration. The prestige that’s associated with the fellowship will also allow her to meet other poets.

The fellowship is awarded to five poets a year who are between the ages of 21 and 31, Poetry Magazine Editor Don Share said. The fellows are able to focus on the work they want to do and start their careers with the funding they receive.

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Huffman joined the other four poetry fellows in Chicago to do readings of their work Thursday to celebrate Poetry Day and the 30th anniversary of Poetry magazine.

Huffman had submitted many poems to the magazine before being selected as a fellow that made her stand out as a poet, Share said. Another publisher had already selected one of her poems that Share enjoyed, so he asked her to send in more work, he said.

She submitted a poem called “Failed Sestina” that was in the March issue of the magazine, he said. The poem was the kind of piece an editor waits and hopes to receive, he noted.

“Then seeing more of Jane’s work, I realized that she has formidable talent, and she’s just working away, writing this really distinguishable and pleasurable and interesting poems,” Share said. “And she really doesn’t sound like anybody else and that’s a remarkable thing, too.”

Huffman’s work was published in the spring issue of The Iowa Review, a literary magazine at the UI. Her poem titled “Rip” used simple language to reference the image of an orange as a representation of female desire, The Iowa Review Managing Editor Lynne Nugent said in an email to The Daily Iowan.

“We at The Iowa Review were so excited to hear that Jane won the fellowship and feel it’s richly deserved,” Nugent said.