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Clemonce Heard

Clemonce Heard

Poetry Faculty


M.F.A., Oklahoma State University, Creative Writing, 2018
B.F.A., Northwestern State University, Graphic Communications, 2012


Clemonce Heard was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. He is the winner of the 2020 Anhinga Robert Dana Prize, selected by Major Jackson. His poetry collection, Tragic City, which investigates the events of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, is forthcoming from Anhinga Press in October 2021. Heard’s work has appeared or is forthcoming from Obsidian, The Missouri Review, Cimarron Review, Iron Horse, World Literature Today, Poetry, Rattle, Ruminate and elsewhere. He earned a BFA in graphic communications from Northwestern State University, and an MFA in creative writing from Oklahoma State University. Heard was a recipient of a 2018-2019 Tulsa Artist Fellowship and was the 2019-2020 Ronald Wallace Poetry Fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He currently lives in San Antonio, Texas, and serves as the Sala Diaz artist-in-residence.

How did you discover Western?

I learned of Western when my mentor, Julie Kane, first took her position in Western’s graduate creative writing program.

What are some of the highlights of your career?

Winning the 2020 Anhinga Robert Dana Prize, selected by Major Jackson to publish my first book Tragic City. Receiving the University of Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing’s Ronald Wallace Fellowship. Earning my Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Oklahoma State University. Receiving honorable mention for the Gwendolyn Brooks Centennial Poetry Prize, selected by Patricia Smith. Cofounding Northwestern State University’s Brainy Acts Poetry Society, which made its 11th year this past April.

What most excites you about your field?

The ability to archive my emotions and teach others to do the same most excites me. Though this is done in so many forms of art, rendering our emotions in language (English specifically) is such a difficult task that to get it right sometimes feels (to me at least) otherworldly.

What is your favorite thing about the Gunnison Valley?

Since I work remotely, I’ve haven’t been, but hope to get there sometime in the next year.

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