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Beth Ann Fennelly

Poet Laureate of Mississippi 2020

Beth Ann Fennelly was born in New Jersey and grew up in the Chicago area. She received a BA from the University of Notre Dame in 1993 and an MFA from the University of Arkansas in 1998. From 1998 to 1999, she attended the University of Wisconsin as a Diane Middlebrook Poetry Fellow.

Fennelly is the author of the poetry collections Unmentionables (W. W. Norton, 2008); Tender Hooks (W. W. Norton, 2004); and Open House (Zoo Press, 2002), winner of the 2001 Kenyon Review Prize. The Harvard Review notes, “Beth Ann Fennelly’s poems are consistently dramatic, complex in their perceptions and formal unfolding, and enthralled with language.”

Fennelly has also published two books of nonfiction, including The Tilted World: A Novel (HarperCollins, 2013), which she cowrote with her husband, Tom Franklin.

Fennelly has received grants from the Mississippi Arts Commission, the Fulbright Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, United States Artists, and the State of Illinois Council, among others. She directs the MFA program at the University of Mississippi, where she has taught since 2002. In 2016, she was appointed Mississippi’s fifth poet laureate, and served until 2021. She lives in Oxford, Mississippi.

Read about Beth Ann Fennelly’s 2020 Poets Laureate Fellowship project.


Unmentionables (W. W. Norton, 2008)
Tender Hooks (W. W. Norton, 2004)
Open House (Zoo Press, 2002)

The Tilted World: A Novel (HarperCollins, 2013)
Great with Child: Letters to a Young Mother (W. W. Norton, 2006)

Beth Ann Fennelly
Photo credit: Riley Robinson
Poet Laureate Project
Laureate Project
Poet Laureate of Mississippi

Poet Laureate of Mississippi

In 2020, Beth Ann Fennelly was named an Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellow.