Nicole Sealey


Photograph by Rachel Eliza Griffiths

Photograph by Rachel Eliza Griffiths

Born in St. Thomas, U.S.V.I. and raised in Apopka, Florida, Nicole Sealey is the author of Ordinary Beast, finalist for the PEN Open Book and Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards, and The Animal After Whom Other Animals Are Named, winner of the Drinking Gourd Chapbook Poetry Prize. Her other honors include a 2019 Rome Prize, the Stanley Kunitz Memorial Prize from The American Poetry Review, the Poetry International Prize and a Daniel Varoujan Award, grants from the Elizabeth George and Jerome Foundations, as well as fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, CantoMundo, Cave Canem, MacDowell Colony and the Poetry Project. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker and elsewhere. Nicole holds an MLA in Africana studies from the University of South Florida and an MFA in creative writing from New York University. Formerly the executive director at Cave Canem Foundation, she is a 2019-2020 Hodder Fellow at Princeton University.



 “Though these poems are attuned to their own devastation, they continue unapologetically with their own aspirations.”

Claudia Rankine, author of Citizen


“Nothing ordinary here. But beast? Yeah, that’s it. This thing has teeth.”

Patricia Smith, author of Incendiary Art


“Nicole Sealey is a poet for the ages, and this is a stunning debut.”

Tracy K. Smith, author of Life on Mars


“These are poems of thrilling sonic and syntactical play, formal dexterity, mythmaking, and delight in the ordinary rendered strange by new juxtapositions.”

Natasha Trethewey, author of Native Guard



Ordinary Beast
(Ecco, 2017)


The Animal After Whom Other Animals Are Named (Northwestern University Press, 2016)



Every thing aspires to one degradation or another. I want to learn how to make something
holy, then walk away.

—from “In Igboland,” which appeared in
American Poetry Review, March/April 2015



 “Nicole Sealey is one of today’s most interesting poets... she steers us on a fantastic voyage through her infinitely brilliant mind.”

—Essence Magazine

“Quietly profound, Sealey’s first collected work flows with an avid heart and mind through questions of love, inheritance, friendship, and family—things that sustain us from one day to the next, made more precious by their fragility.”

—O, The Oprah Magazine



“These poems are marvels that should be read, re-read, and read aloud to others.”

Amy Tan, author of The Joy Luck Club


Ordinary Beast is that rare poetry debut that possesses all the assurance and wisdom of a masterful mid-career book.”

Craig Teicher, author of The Trembling Answers



December 2, 2019
Poetry Reading & Conversation with Tracie Morris
Queens College, CUNY

65-30 Kissena Boulevard
Flushing, NY 


January 2020
Poetry Reading & Conversation
New York University
MFA Writers Workshop

April 15, 2020
Poetry Reading
Princeton University
Princeton, NJ

June 2020
Poetry Reading
Policromia Arts Festival
Siena, ITALY

January 14, 2021
Poetry Reading
University of Arizona
Poetry Center
Tucson, AZ