Poetry | Durham
The North Carolina Arts Council supports diverse and innovative artists with fellowships, professional development and more to enhance the state’s brand and drive economic impact.
“I am a third-generation poet,” says D.M. Spratley. “My father, Marvin Spratley, and my grandmother, Ella Spratley, wrote poems, and used their writing to contribute to their families and communities.” She is the recipient of a 2019–20 N.C. Arts Council Fellowship in poetry.
“One of my favorite early memories is of writing a poem so that I could share that way of seeing the world with my father,” she adds, but “before I sound too precocious, it was rhyming couplets about McDonald’s.”
Spratley currently serves as director of Programs and Strategy for Village of Wisdom in Durham, N.C., a community-based movement of Black parents protecting Black genius. She counts writers, artists, comedians, scholars, dancers, and activists as her major influences. “I find there is much for me to learn from those in other fields who are working to change how we think and see the world,” she said. Among the poets she finds herself turning and returning to include Tracy K. Smith, her thesis advisor at Princeton, former US Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey, Whiting Award winner Jericho Brown, and others.
Spratley received her M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Hollins University. Her work has been published in 32 Poems, Shenandoah, POETRY, and Lambda Literary Poetry Spotlight, among other magazines and journals.