Poetry Alumna Isabella DeSendi '17 Winner of 2019 Poetry Society of America Chapbook Fellowship

October 25, 2019

Poetry Alumna Isabella DeSendi '17 was recently announced as a winner of the 2019 Poetry Society of America Chapbook Fellowships. DeSendi won in the "under 30" category for her book, Through the New Body. Selected by the poet Evie Shockley, Through the New Body is a collection of poems excised from DeSendi’s thesis, Enter Spirit. “In retrospect, it makes sense that these poems started with the spirit and moved into a new body where they are still learning to heal and love and begin again. At the risk of being too transparent, this chapbook is about sexual assault, racism, love, heartbreak, God, New York, death, and everything in between.” DeSendi wrote on her Instagram.  


Each winner receives $1,000 and their chapbook will be published in Spring 2020 by the Poetry Society of America. Of the award, DeSendi said, “Everyone thinks I'm joking when I ask if there are support groups for publishing writers, but I'm not. It takes a lot of preparation—for me at least—to unleash a poem and release it to the world. I've been fortunate enough to have one or two pieces picked up at once, but the thought of having a gaggle of them set permanently in print is terrifying, terrific, and so humbling. What's helped with the anxiety of publishing (because let's be honest, what writer doesn't feel anxious when work enters the world?) is knowing that voices like mine need to speak up and occupy space in this world. If I don't call a monster by his name, who will? If I don't ask to be seen, who will see me? When I was a poet first learning to write, I needed the poets I loved more than I needed air. They heard me and made me feel known, and in some ways saved my life. For me, considering the reader and acknowledging the importance our stories have has actually lightened the load of publishing. Our words are never our own.” 


DeSendi is a Cuban-Italian poet and educator whose work has been published in Narrative, Leveler, Small Orange, Two Peach, The Ekphrastic Review, and The Grief Diaries. She was recently selected as a finalist for the 2019 Frontier Digital Poetry Chapbook contest judged by Jericho Brown, and has also been named a finalist for the June Jordan Fellowship and Narrative Magazine’s Annual Poetry Prize. DeSendi is the recipient of a New York State Summer Writers Institute Fellowship. She lives in New York City and works in finance.