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Thomas Sayers Ellis        

Award-winning Poet & Photographer

Thomas Sayers Ellis is an award-winning photographer and poet. His first, full collection, The Maverick Room, for which he received a Mrs. Giles Whiting Writers’ Award and the 2006 John C. Zacharis First Book Award, was published by Graywolf Press in 2005, . The collection is “marked by inner-city youth culture energy that is part lyrical narrative, part “Parliament Funkadelic,” a blend of chaos and control through the sheer and simple power of words” (Midwest Review). His most recent collection is Skin, Inc.: Identity Repair Poems (Graywolf, 2010), including his own photographs. He is also the author of The Good Junk (Take Three #1, Graywolf 1996); a chapbook The Genuine Negro Hero (Kent State University Press, 2001); and the chaplet Song On (WinteRed Press 2005). His Breakfast and Blackfist: Notes for Black Poets is forthcoming from the University of Michigan Press Poets on Poetry Series. He is a contributing editor to Callaloo and Poets and Writers magazine.

Mr. Ellis co-founded The Dark Room Collective in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1988 and earned an MFA from Brown University in 1995. His work has appeared in many journals and anthologies, including Poetry; Grand Street; Tin House; Ploughshares; and Best American Poetry, 1997, 2001 and 2010. He has received fellowships and grants from The Fine Arts Work Center, the Ohio Arts Council, Yaddo, and The MacDowell Colony. In 2015 he was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship for poetry. As photographer, Ellis has collaborated with Elizabeth Alexander and The Poetry Foundation to create the virtual Washington DC poetry tour. He is an assistant professor of creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College and a faculty member of The Lesley University low-residency MFA Program in Cambridge, Mass.

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