Three Writing Alumni Receive Fellowships from The National Endowment of the Arts

Lisa Cochran
February 02, 2024

Writing alumni Jane Marchant ’18 (GS ’15), Meg Matich ’15, and Mary South ’14, are three among thirty-five writers who have been awarded National Endowment of the Arts Fellowships.

NEA Creative Writing fellowships are incredibly selective––nearly 2,100 eligible applications were received for the 2024 cycle. Each recipient will be awarded $25,000, allowing for career advancement, travel, research, and writing time.

Previously the NEA has funded renowned writers such as Tobias Wolff, Jamaica Kincaid, T.C. Boyle, Paul Auster, Jennifer Egan, and Alexander Chee, among numerous others.

Much of Marchant’s work is interdisciplinary, involving the use of collage, plants, photography, and writing. Her photography and book art have been featured in ACCI Gallery, Kala Art Institute, and the Center for Book Arts. Her writing can be found in Guernica, Apogee, Catapult, Columbia Journal, Evergreen Review, and elsewhere, in addition to being anthologized in The Beiging of America: Personal Narratives about Being Mixed Race in the Twenty-First Century (2Leaf Press, 2017). 

In her time at the School of the Arts, Marchant served as the co-president of Our Word––a student group championing inclusion and diversity in the graduate writing program—and taught creative writing to Columbia’s program for high school students and to young people incarcerated at the Rose M. Singer Center on Rikers Island.

“This recognition from the NEA provides necessary financials to nurture my artistic work, but most importantly, it gives validation that I am real, we artists are real, and the writer’s voice is deserving of support,” she writes in her NEA personal statement. 

Marchant has also recently been awarded a grant from the Elizabeth George Foundation, funding her for the entire duration of the year as she completes her memoir, Jane Marchant’s Encyclopedia of Botany. She has also received support from the Lucas Montalvo Arts Center, Tin House’s First Book Residency, Headlands Center For the Arts, Ucross Foundation, Art Omi: Writers, Hambidge Center for Creative Arts and Sciences, and Oak Spring Garden Foundation

South has also received fellowships from The Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Storyknife, Yaddo, MacDowell, The Black Mountain Institute, Ucross, Art Omi: Writers, Kimmel Harding Nelson, Ragdale, VCCA, and The Sewanee Writers’ Conference

“I’m grateful beyond what I can express to the National Endowment for the Arts for finding merit in my sample pages,” she writes in her NEA personal statement. “The grant will allow me to continue caring for myself and my loved ones while providing me with more unrestricted time to complete the manuscript. I will always remember this validation and generosity given to me and my writing.”

South's debut short story collection You Will Never Be Forgotten (FSG, 2020) was a finalist for the PEN/Bingham Prize for debut story collection and was longlisted for The Story Prize. Her fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Conjunctions, Guernica, NOON, American Short Fiction, and Guernica

Matich translates Icelandic, German, and Danish. With the NEA funding, she plans to translate the novel The Valley of Flowers by renowned Greenlandic author Niviaq Korneliussen from Danish to English. The Valley of Flowers deals primarily with Greenland’s suicide epidemic, post-colonial Indigenous identity, abusive relationships, and trauma. Korneliussen’s novel won the Nordic Council Literature Prize in 2021. Upon receiving the prize, Korneliussen called upon young Greenlanders to “preserve their lives.” 

“Compassion is equal parts attention and imagination, and this is no less the case in translation,” Matich writes in her NEA personal statement. “Translating The Valley of Flowers is my answer to Niviaq’s call to act to preserve lives.”

Meg Matich has translated six other works including Ásta Sigurðardóttir‘s Nothing to be Rescued (Nordisk Books, 2023) and Magnús Sigurðsson’s Cold Moons (Deep Vellum, 2017). In the past, she’s also received funding fromPEN America, the Fulbright Commission, the DAAD, and others. Matich is among the small percentage of immigrant members of the Writers Union of Iceland.