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Kathy Fagan Grandinetti on making the most of her Guggenheim Fellowship

March 5, 2024

Kathy Fagan Grandinetti on making the most of her Guggenheim Fellowship

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In April of 2023, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation awarded 171 outstanding individuals the Guggenheim Fellowship to help them pursue their work in any field of work. The department’s own Professor Kathy Fagan Grandinetti is one of the fellows. She is on leave this academic year to pursue her fellowship goals. 

Unlike many of the prestigious fellowships for creatives where fellows are chosen anonymously, the Guggenheim is open to accepting applications from all, and the process is quite rigorous. Fagan Grandinetti notes that it requires “multiple recommenders, submitted books, a lengthy proposal and artist statements.” Grandinetti applied eight times before receiving the fellowship. With the support of the Department of English and Ohio State’s Office of Research, she was able to take a full year off from academic duties and focus her attention on traveling through Europe for research and writing. How fellows utilize their fellowship differs from fellow to fellow, “depending on what they choose to make of their fellowship funds. For me, taking a year off from OSU service and teaching has allowed me the time to devote myself fully to writing.”  

During her fellowship year, Fagan Grandinetti has been traveling, researching and composing her newest poetry collection, though she’s not imposing a deadline on herself: “I’d be very grateful to finish during this year off, but it’s hard to say. I’m a slow writer no matter what, and this particular project keeps getting redefined for me. That’s typical of my experience when I head toward completing a full collection; I’m not overly worried about it as long as I keep writing.” 

Fagan Grandinetti is highly appreciative of this opportunity because it has helped her “meet fellow Guggenheim recipients who have long been role models for me, and that’s a reward in itself.” As the granddaughter of immigrants and a first-generation college student, she has worked diligently to achieve something that is meaningful to her. Growing up, her English teachers in high school encouraged her to write stories and poems. In college, she briefly pursued Journalism before switching to English for her love of reading and writing poetry. “Since then, I completed three degrees, published six collections of poems and have been fortunate enough to receive support for my work from the Ingram Merrill Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ohio Arts Council, the Greater Columbus Arts Council and many literary magazines and arts residencies.”  

Yet Fagan Grandinetti never felt far away from the child she was. More than the books she published and the recognition she received, she is grateful for her education: “It’s the education I received and the education I’ve pursued on my own in the service of making my own poems that continue to bring me a capacity for wonder and joy, and I am endlessly fortunate to be in a position to share that with all my students, especially those who face socioeconomic and other challenges.”  

When asked about what advice she would give to those looking to apply for the Guggenheim Fellowship in the future, she says, “Speaking to writers only: publish a couple of books before applying, and when you do apply, ask for recommendations from those who you know will support your work. It’s laborious to write letters of recommendation; it’s a more joyful gift for everyone if it’s done out of belief in the applicant’s work. Thank your referees, too, even if you don’t win. Be patient. Don’t give up. And finally, spend time writing a proposal that connects former writing concerns with what you’re doing now.”  

Fagan Grandinetti is looking forward to finishing her manuscript and returning to her teaching position. “I am so fortunate to have gracious colleagues pick up the slack for me this year while I’m away, and my students have been very patient and supportive, too. I look forward to returning to them all completely recharged and eager to share what I’ve learned.” 

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