Award: Artist Research & Development Grant
Discipline: Literary Arts
Project Collaborator(s):

City/Town: Flagstaff
Year: 2018
Artist Website:

I believe telling stories can make lives better, and even save lives. I want the art I make and the art I promote to be able to help people cope with the difficult aspects of being a human being—loss, fear, sadness, grief. And to make them feel less alone. And to bring them moments of joy.

In her first two books, Flagstaff author Erin Stalcup established herself as a unique voice in speculative fiction with a style Publisher’s Weekly described as “surreal but solid enough for the reader to lean against.” With her new novel, The Keener, Stalcup hopes to create something more conventional (and a bit more commercial), but no less personal. The Keener imagines that the ancient Irish custom of hiring keening women for funerals never stopped. Her protagonist, Maeve, is paid to mourn strangers, and has become the world’s most famous keener. The novel follows her as she publicly performs and also investigates her own private griefs.

Beyond allowing her the opportunity to develop a new style of writing, Keener hopes the grant and the work it supports will also further her goals of making space for unconventional, fabulist fiction by women, an environment where it is easier for other unconventional writers to publish their work. As she explains in her application, “I believe diverse voices telling stories is one antidote to the ills of society, and I hope my writing, teaching, and editing can solidify and celebrate diverse communities.”

In this video, Stalcup reads the first chapter of her novel, Every Living Species. Read more at 

Erin Stalcup is the author of the story collection And Yet It Moves (Indiana University Press 2016), and the novel Every Living Species (Gold Wake Press 2017). Her fiction has appeared in The Kenyon Review, The Sun, Monkeybicycle, H_NGM_N, Hobart, The Massachusetts Review, and elsewhere, and her nonfiction was named a Notable Essay in Best American Essays 2016. Erin holds an MFA from Warren Wilson’s Program for Writers, and has taught in community colleges, universities, liberal arts schools, and prisons in New York City, Appalachia, and Texas. Erin now teaches creative writing at Northern Arizona University, her alma mater in her hometown of Flagstaff. Erin co-edits Waxwing (