Jessica Mehta named 2021–22 poet-in-residence at Hugo House

Posted Mon, 7/19/2021 - 11:58am by  |  Category:

SEATTLE—July 19, 2021—Hugo House is pleased to announce that interdisciplinary author and artist Jessica Mehta will serve as its newest poet-in-residence, as part of one of the longest-running programs at Seattle’s home for words.

Mehta is the author of fifteen books, eleven of which are collections of poetry. Her latest collections, When We Talk of Stolen Sisters (Not a Pipe Publishing) and Antipodes (New Rivers Press), will be released this year. She has received numerous awards, including a US Fulbright scholarship, a GLEAN: Portland Award, a Native Arts and Culture LIFT award, a Ucross Native American artist-in-residence position, and many more. She is currently completing her PhD in literature at the University of Exeter in England.

“Jessica is new to Seattle and new to Hugo House, but I’m so excited for the wisdom and experience she’ll bring to the writer-in-residence role here,” Hugo House Interim Executive Director Rob Arnold said. “We’re so fortunate to be able to welcome such an accomplished writer to a new home, and to be able to support her artistic vision, community spirit, and dedication to holding space for BIPOC writers.”

As Hugo House poet-in-residence, Mehta will receive office space and a monthly stipend to meet Seattle-area writers for free hour-long appointments while working on a new poetry manuscript inspired by the cards of Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck.

“If you are familiar with this deck, you know that much of the imagery is biblical,” Mehta wrote. “I call myself a devout agnostic, but my doctoral research examines how eating disorders inform and reveal themselves in poetry—as well as the disorder’s ties to original sin. I am a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, so addressing the reality of eating disorders in indigenous communities will also be a feature of this manuscript.”

As part of her residency, she plans to reserve a portion of her available consultation hours to meet with BIPOC writers.

“I believe the best work does not blossom in a silo,” Mehta wrote. “When teaching or mentoring writers, I offer my own vulnerability by sharing my own work. As teachers and mentors, we are

charged with guiding those who are coming after us and helping them to avoid the traps and pitfalls that we stumbled across.”

Mehta was selected by former writer-in-residence Kristen Millares Young and outgoing poet-in-residence Laura Da’. Joining prose writer-in-residence Ruth Joffre, she will begin her term as poet-in-residence on September 15. The residency runs through June 2022 with an option to renew for an additional year.

About Jessica Mehta

Jessica (Tyner) Mehta is an Aniyunwiya (citizen of the Cherokee Nation) interdisciplinary author and artist. Awards include a US Fulbright Scholar Award, UCross Native American artist-in-residence position, 2021 GLEAN: Portland Award, Native Arts and Culture LIFT Award, and Regional Arts and Culture Council Make/Learn/Build Award. She has published fifteen books, two of which will be released this year: When We Talk of Stolen Sisters (Not a Pipe Publishing) and Antipodes (New Rivers Press). Mehta is completing her PhD in literature at the University of Exeter (England) and serves as a post-graduate researcher at the largest Victorian Centre in England, the first Native American to hold this position.