In Fred Chappell’s introduction to The Kelly Cherry Reader, he writes, “Cherry is a flambeau example of the extremely conscious artist, a writer who mediates ceaselessly upon the problems and possibilities of the poem, the novel, the short story and the essay. She ponders what she has done and how she has done it; she thinks about the approaches and techniques she has employed, and she labors to extend and expand them. This kind of effort is not common to all writers, many of whom will write this year pretty much the same novel they wrote year before last, the same poem they wrote twenty years ago.”
Cherry has long been a writer whose work has remained vital and, due to her diligence, fresh. Here, in the Reader, she collects a body of work, much of it no longer in print, and permits us to remap and re-explore where her writing has come from, where it has gone, and where it is bound yet to go; it reacquaints long-time fans and invites new readers to discover the importance of her work.
KELLY CHERRY has previously published twenty-two books (novels, stories, poetry, autobiography, memoir, criticism, essays, and reviews), nine chapbooks, and two translations of classical drama. The most recent book is A Kind of Dream: Stories. Her newest full-length collection of poems, The Life and Death of Poetry, was published by L.S.U. Press in 2013 and her newest chapbook, a group of poems titled Vectors: J. Robert Oppenheimer: The Years before the Bomb, appeared from Parallel Press in December 2012. She was the first recipient of the Hanes Poetry Prize given by the Fellowship of Southern Writers for a body of work. Other awards include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Rockefeller Foundation, the Bradley Major Achievement (Lifetime) Award, a USIS Speaker Award (The Philippines), a Distinguished Alumnus Award, three Wisconsin Arts Board fellowships, two WAB New Work awards, the Dictionary of Literary Biography Yearbook Award for Distinguished Book of Stories in 1999 (2000), and selection as a Wisconsin Notable Author. Her stories have appeared in Best American Short Stories, The O. Henry Awards: Stories, The Pushcart Prize, and New Stories from the South. In 2010, she was a Director’s Visitor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. In 2012, she received both the Taramuto Prize for a story and the Carole Weinstein Prize for Poetry. In 2013 she received the L. E. Phillabaum Award for Poetry. A former Poet Laureate of Virginia, she is Eudora Welty Professor Emerita of English and Evjue-Bascom Professor Emerita in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She and her husband live in Virginia. Further details appear on her Wikipedia page.