Amy Fleury, professor of English and director of the Master of Fine Arts program at McNeese State University, has received a prestigious ATLAS (Awards to Louisiana Artists and Scholars) grant from the Louisiana Board of Regents.
As part of the board’s research and development subprogram, ATLAS grants are competitively awarded to state and private university faculty members in arts, humanities and social sciences. Recipients are chosen based on the scholarly and artistic merit of proposed projects, as well as a project’s potential to impact regional, national and international audiences. Fleury was one of nine faculty members from five universities to be selected.
With the $24,000 grant, Fleury will take leave for the fall 2019 semester to work on a book-length collection of poems about her son, Graham, who passed away in 2015, and his life in the intensive care unit of the Texas Children’s Hospital.
“With this collection, I want to give a sense of what life is like inside of a pediatric hospital and what it’s like to be a parent to a medically complex child,” Fleury says. “Grief is something that is more accepted than it once was, but there is still a stigma and discomfort with this emotion and experience, even though it’s something everyone encounters. In exploring the aftermath of grieving and trying to keep my son’s memory alive, I hope my family’s experiences will be meaningful and helpful to others.”
Fleury also believes that this time away from teaching will help reconnect her with her poetry roots. “When you’re a professor of writing, you need to be an active participant in that art form and the community,” she says. “While this grant will give me time to focus on my own work, I’m certain when I come back next spring I’ll have more to give to my students as a teacher and mentor.”
Fleury is the author of “Beautiful Trouble” and “Sympathetic Magic” and her poems have appeared in Crazyhorse, Copper Nickel, The American Life in Poetry, Prairie Schooner, 32 Poems, River Styx and The Southeast Review. She has received a poetry fellowship from the Kansas Arts Commission and the Nadya Aisenberg Residency Fellowship from the MacDowell Colony, and she was the Resident Poet at the Amy Clampitt House in Lenox, Massachusetts.
She has received three endowed professorships at McNeese, including two Juliet Hardtner Women in Arts and Humanities Endowed Professorships, and the Shearman Family Professorship in Creative Writing