Acclaimed Poet, Writer & Teacher
“Nezhukumatathil speaks with resonance and fierceness…” —Publishers Weekly
"Aimee Nezhukumatathil is able to handle serious subjects with the lightest of touches. Her edgy humor and keen eye keep her poems buoyant and fresh." —Billy Collins
"Aimee Nezhukumatathil's poems are as ripe, funny, and fresh as a precious friendship. They're the fullness of days, deliciously woven of heart and verve....Poems like these revive our souls." —Naomi Shihab Nye
Born to a Filipino mother and Malayali Indian father, Aimee Nezhukumatathil (neh-ZOO / koo-mah / tah-TILL) is the author of three books of poetry: Lucky Fish (2011), winner of the Hoffer Grand Prize for Prose and Independent Books; At the Drive-In Volcano (2007); and Miracle Fruit (2003), all on Tupelo Press. Lucky Fish won the gold medal in Poetry for the Independent Publishers Book Awards and was featured in the New York Times and on the PBS NewsHour ArtsBeat. Poems from this collection were also awarded an NEA Fellowship in poetry, the Glenna Luschia Prize from Prairie Schooner, and the Angoff Award from The Literary Review for the best poems appearing that volume year. At the Drive-In Volcano was named winner of the Balcones Prize, which honors an outstanding collection published the previous year. Her first collection of poetry, Miracle Fruit, was selected by Gregory Orr for the Tupelo Press Prize and was the winner of ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year Award in poetry, the Global Filipino Literary Award. Other awards for her writing include the Pushcart Prize, a poetry fellowship to the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, the Boatwright Prize from Shenandoah, and the Richard Hugo Prize from Poetry Northwest.
Poems and essays have appeared in American Poetry Review, Quarterly West, New England Review, Ploughshares, FIELD, Antioch Review, Prairie Schooner, Slate, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Southern Review, and Tin House. Poems and essays have been widely anthologized in such venues as Billy Collins’ second edition of Random House’s Poetry 180: A Poem a Day and Language for a New Century: Contemporary Asian American Poetry from W.W. Norton. A number of essays and poems have also been published in several high school AP English textbooks and college textbooks.
Nezhukumatathil is a Professor of English at State University of New York-Fredonia where she was awarded the Chancellor’s Medal of Excellence and named the campus-wide Hagan Young Scholar. She has twice served as a faculty member for the Kundiman Asian American Poetry Retreat. Her books are widely adopted for high schools, colleges, and universities as part of contemporary poetry, women’s studies, and Asian-American literature classes; and she has been a featured reader at over a hundred venues all over the world—from places as varied as the John Adams Institute in Amsterdam, to being a headliner for the Dodge Poetry Festival, to UC-Berkeley, NYU, and reading for both the Poetry Society of America and The Academy of American Poets. She lives in western New York with her husband and two young sons.
LUCKY FISH (2011)
Lucky Fish travels along a lush current — a confluence of leaping vocabulary and startling formal variety, with upwelling gratitude at its source: for love, motherhood, “new hope,” and the fluid and rich possibilities of words themselves. With an exuberant appetite for “my morning song, my scurry-step, my dew,” anchored in complicated human situations, this astounding young poet’s third collection of poems is her strongest yet.
AT THE DRIVE-IN VOLCANO (2007)
In At the Drive-In Volcano Aimee Nezhukumatathil examines the full circle journey of desire; loss; and, ultimately; an exuberant love—traveling around a world brimming with wild and delicious offerings such as iced waterfalls, jackfruit, and pistol shrimp. From the tropical landscapes of the Caribbean, India, and the Philippines to the deep winters of western New York and mild autumns of Ohio, the natural world Nezhukumatathil describes is dark but also lovely—so full of enchantment and magic. Here, worms glow in the dark, lizards speak, the most delicious soup in the world turns out to be deadly, and a woman eats soil as if it were candy. Her trademark charm, verve and wit remain elemental and a delight to behold, even in the face of a crumbling relationship. These poems confront delicate subjects of love and loss with an exacting exuberance and elegance not hardly seen in a writer so young.
MIRACLE FRUIT (2003)
As three worlds collide, a mother's Philippines, a father's India, and the poet's contemporary America, the resulting impressions are chronicled in this collection of incisive and penetrating verse. The writer weaves her words carefully into wise and affecting embroidery that celebrates the senses while remaining down-to-earth and genuine.