Each year Delaware Division of the Arts (DDoA) awards Individual Artist Fellowship grants to deserving applicants in the categories of Emerging ($3000), Established ($6000), and one Masters ($10,000). The recipients come from all genres – literature, music, visual arts, and music.
There were 136 applicants for the 2019 Individual Artist Fellowships. Twenty were selected. Karen Hurley-Heyman is one of the twenty, in the category of Emerging in Literature: Poetry.
Karen grew up in the Pacific Northwest and earned her M.A. and Ph.D in Dramatic Art from UC Berkeley. She moved to Delaware in 1983 and joined the theater faculty at University of Delaware. She is currently studying with Gerry LaFemina and recently participated in the 2018 Writers’ Retreat sponsored by DDoA. The Broadkill Review is pleased to share the following interview.
The Broadkill Review (BKR): Congratulations on your selection for a Fellowship grant. How did you feel when you received notification?
Karen Hurley-Heyman(KHH): Well the message came by email rather than the usual letter and I didn't expect what I read which was: Congratulations. I couldn't believe it. Actually I was shocked and had to read the message a couple of times to be sure I wasn’t imagining things. I felt a flood of happiness and excitement mingled with disbelief.
Recipients were of course requested to keep the news confidential until DDoA made a formal announcement, so I told only my husband and waited with excitement for the public announcement so that I could share the news with family and friends, many of whom have encouraged me along the way.
BKR: Was this your first time to apply for a Fellowship?
KHH: I've applied for an emerging-poet fellowship for more years than I want to admit. Around December I began to expect the usual letter in the mail telling me to keep up the good work. I feel that hard work, daily work and then persistence in seeking support are essential. Next on my list is putting strong effort into getting published (and thank you for being one of the first to do that for me, I appreciate it.) *
BKR: Is there a sense of validation for you?
KHH: Yes, there is indeed a sense of validation. I've studied on line and at home, attended as many workshops as I could, read all kinds of poetry and worked every day at my craft. It's a very good feeling to know that someone recognized how serious I've been about developing as a writer and that my work resonated with them and seemed meritorious. It also means that all my effort was not wasted and that my childhood dream of becoming a poet was becoming a reality because of my own commitment. It was a pretty good feeling to put my hands on my hips, take a look at my world and say, well, I'll be darned, I really am a poet and know that this was true because of the way I am now living my life and using my time.
BKR: How do you think this grant will forward your writing? Do you have specific plans?
KHH: I think the grant will forward my writing by providing me with a web site to keep in touch with a community of artists in all disciplines and help connect me with other writers and publishers. The DDoA is a strong, visible and trusted ally for local artists and I am grateful for the various kinds of support and opportunities they provide, not the least of which is support for presentation opportunities.
More specifically, I will have resources to continue studies and to publish a first book. My specific plan is to rough draft several collections of poems and then seek advice on how to craft a first book and perhaps include a prose poem or two along with personal photos or sketches. At this stage however I think it's best to keep it simple and not be overly ambitious....best to build a strong foundation of work and identify a few themes I'd like to concentrate on this coming year.
BKR: What advice would you to people applying for a fellowship?
KHH: My best advice to others who want to apply for a fellowship is: DO WHAT YOU WANT TO BE. Have faith in your own work, work every day on developing your craft, stay in touch with your local community of artists, and be persistent about seeking support. BKR: Again, congratulations on being awarded an Individual Artist Fellowship. The Broadkill Review appreciates you taking the time to share your thoughts with us.
* The Broadkill Review is pleased to showcase one of Karen’s poems from the past issue.