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US English faculty and SPA alumna Claire Wahmanholm '04 wins $25,000 McKnight Artist Fellowship for poetry

Upper School English teacher and award-winning poet Claire Wahmanholm, who is also a member of SPA's Class of '04, has been named a recipient of a 2020 McKnight Artist Fellowships for Writers. The Fellowship, which is administered by The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, was awarded to five Minnesota writers this year and carries a $25,000 prize for each recipient. Read the Loft press release about the 2020 winners

Dr. Wahmanholm, who has taught English in SPA's Upper School since 2016, is the recipient of multiple awards for her poetry. Her chapbook (a short poetry collection) Night Vision won the 2017 New Michigan Press/DIAGRAM chapbook contest, and her debut full-length collection, Wilder (Milkweed Editions), won the 2018 Lindquist & Vennum Prize for Poetry, the Society of Midland Authors Award for Poetry, and was a finalist for the 2019 Minnesota Book Award. Her second collection, Redmouth, was published with Tinderbox Editions in 2019. 

Wahmanholm's submission for the McKnight Fellowship included 18 pages of new poems that will be part of her third published collection, which she hopes to complete during the summer of 2020. "I'm over the moon that these poems have received such an endorsement," says Wahmanholm, who notes that the poetry judge for the Fellowship this year was renowned American poet Natalie Diaz

Wahmanholm says she's still somewhat in shock at being named a 2020 Fellow, and initially refused to answer the phone when The Loft called to tell her about her award. "I hate answering the phone, and if I get a call from a number I don’t recognize, I never pick it up," she says, "so when the call came, I joked out loud to my husband, 'the only reason I would ever pick this up is if it’s The Loft calling to give me a McKnight, haha, they would never, what are the chances?' The whole thing still feels wrapped in layers of unreality and disbelief."