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MFA English Program

University of Mississippi

Sandra Beasley

Sandra Beasley won the 2009 Barnard Women Poets Prize for I Was the Jukebox, selected by Joy Harjo and published by W.W. Norton. Her first collection, Theories of Falling, won the 2007 New Issues Poetry Prize judged by Marie Howe. Her poems have appeared in such journals as Poetry, Slate, Black Warrior Review, Blackbird, Barrelhouse, and The Believer; she will also be featured in The Best American Poetry 2010.

Awards for her work include a DCCAH Individual Artist Fellowship, the Friends of Literature Prize from the Poetry Foundation, the Maureen Egen Exchange Award from Poets & Writers, and the Elinor Benedict Poetry Prize from Passages North. She has received fellowships to the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, Jentel Artist Residency, the Millay Colony, VCCA, and Vermont Studio Center.

Beasley lives in Washington, D.C., where she received an MFA in creative writing from American University in 2004. She also studied poetry at the University of Virginia, where she received a BA in English Literature in 2002. She serves on the Board of the Writer’s Center and as the Literary Chair for the Arts Club of Washington.

Her nonfiction has been featured in the Washington Post Magazine, Poets & Writers, and many online venues. She is working on Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl: Tales From an Allergic Life, forthcoming from Crown, as well as her third collection of poetry.

Here is a sample:


Show me a tent of well-dressed witnesses
and I’ll show you how a circus catches fire:

elephants trying to squeeze down the aisle,

monkeys dancing from pole to hot pole

until the roof collapses. Will you be water?
Will you be ashes? Will you be enough gauze

for a gown? In the stampede, a woman runs
ten yards before noticing the hand she holds

is not her husband’s. She keeps running.

Do you blame her? Convince me eternity

is just this art of surviving, over and over.
Promise you’re worth my weight in burning.



More information about Sandra Beasley and a link to her blog is available at her website: