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Destiny Hemphill of Durham Wins the 2023 Sally Buckner Emerging Writers’ Fellowship

DURHAM—Durham poet Destiny Hemphill is the recipient of the 2023 Sally Buckner Emerging Writers’ Fellowship.

Photo of Destiny Hemphill, a brown-skinned Black woman with a short-cropped afro. She is looking directly into the camera with her head tilted the left. She is wearing a black sleeveless top with a burnt orange skirt. Green foliage surrounds her.

Destiny Hemphill (she/her) is a ritual worker and poet based in Durham, NC. A recipient of fellowships from Naropa University’s Summer Writing Program, Callaloo, Tin House, and Kenyon’s Writers Workshop, she was also a member of the inaugural cohort of the Poetry Coalition Fellowship. She is the author of the poetry chapbook Oracle: a Cosmology (Honeysuckle Press, 2018). Her debut full-length poetry collection motherworld: a devotional for the alter-life (Action Books, 2023) was a finalist for the CAAPP Book Prize, Cleveland State University’s Lighthouse Prize, and the 2020 and 2021 National Poetry Series contests.

“The judges were impressed with the vibrancy and originality of Hemphill’s compelling work samples, as well as her thoughtful responses during her interview,” said June Guralnick, Program Coordinator for the Buckner Fellowship.

Hemphill was one of two finalists for the 2023 fellowship, along with Camille McCarthy. This year’s judges were Celestine DavisDannye Powell, and John York.

In addition to a $500 stipend, Hemphill will receive a full scholarship to attend the North Carolina Writers’ Network 2022 Fall ConferenceNovember 18-20 at the Holiday Inn Resort in Wrightsville Beach, as well as scholarships to the Network’s 2023 Spring and Fall Conferences. All finalists will receive complimentary one-year NCWN memberships.

The North Carolina Writers’ Network offers the annual Sally Buckner Emerging Writers’ Fellowship in honor of the late poet, editor, and educator. The Buckner Fellowship supports emerging writers whose work shows promise of excellence and commitment to a literary career. Award recipients are invited to ‘pay it forward’ in the spirit of Sally Buckner’s generosity and support of Tar Heel authors.

Applicants must be in the early stages of their careers and will not have had yet major recognition for their work. No specific academic background is required or preferred. Each year the program accepts applications from writers working primarily in one of three specified genres, rotated over a three-year cycle. The 2024 genre will be announced at a later date; submissions open for the 2024 Buckner Fellowship on May 1 and run through June 30.

A native of Statesville, Sally Buckner taught every level from kindergarten through graduate school, including twenty-eight years as a faculty member at Peace College, inspiring thousands of young people to find their own unique writing voices. Buckner’s published nonfiction, fiction, and poetry can be found in numerous journals, and in 1986 her collection of poetry, Strawberry Harvest, was published by St. Andrews Press. Other poetry collections include Collateral Damage (2008), and Nineteen Visions of Christmas (2011). Buckner edited two well-known anthologies of North Carolina literature: Our Words, Our Ways: Reading and Writing in North Carolina (1991) and Word and Witness: 100 Years of NC Poetry (1999).

The North Carolina Writers’ Network connects, promotes, and serves writers of this state, providing education in the craft and business of writing, opportunities for recognition and critique of literary work, resources for writers at all stages of development, support for and advocacy of the literary heritage of North Carolina, and a community for those who write.