Carmen Gillespie is a Professor of English and the Director of the Griot Institute of Africana Studies. She is also the editor of the Griot Book Project Series, published by Bucknell University Press. Her research, writing, and teaching interests are in American, African American, and Caribbean literatures and cultures and creative writing. In additional to scholarly articles and individual poem publications, Carmen is the author of five books, an edited book, and a chapbook, and has had a libretto commissioned. Carmen's awards include an Ohio Arts Council Individual Artist Fellowship for Excellence in Poetry and grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Mellon Foundation, the Bread Loaf Writer's Conference, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. She is a Cave Canem Fellow and a Fulbright scholar. Essence magazine named Carmen one of its 40 favorite poets in commemoration of the magazine's 40th anniversary.

Educational Background

  • Ph.D., Emory University

Teaching Interests

  • American literatures and cultures
  • African American literatures and cultures
  • African American women writers
  • Toni Morrison
  • Caribbean literatures and cultures
  • Popular culture
  • Creative writing

Scholarly Interests

  • American literatures and cultures
  • African American literatures and cultures
  • Caribbean literatures and cultures
  • Creative writing

Current Projects and Research Interests

  • Carmen's projects in process include a scholarly monograph exploring sexuality as a trope in the novels of Toni Morrison and a memoir about the life and death of her husband, Harold Bakst in 2013, 90 days after his diagnosis of stage-four cancer during a routine physical.

Recent Awards

  • 21st Annual Library of Virginia Literary Award Nominee, Ghosts of Monticello: A Recitatif 
  • 2017 Stillhouse Press Poetry Prize
  • Two Sylvia's Press 2016 Wilder Series Poetry Prize
  • The titular poem of The Blue Black Wet of Wood selected as a Motionpoem film short by Sundance award-winning director, Malik Vitthal, and was premiered at the Walker Arts Center in Minneapolis in fall 2016.
  • Finalist 2016 Cleveland State University Poetry Center's Poetry Prize
  • Semi-finalist 2016 University of Akron Poetry Prize
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