Who Is Maggie Nelson? The Essayist Just Received A Genius Grant

For voracious readers and literature aficionados, the MacArthur Foundation "Genius" Grant announcements are always exciting, even if you'd never expect to win one yourself. The recipients — scientists, artists, scholars, and, of course, writers — are awarded $625,000, and their work gains some much deserved recognition. And we readers are devoted fans; when a writer we admire is crowned a "Genius," the honor can feel ... well, personal or even validating, as though the grant quietly acknowledges: Yes, readers, you have good taste. So, for all my fellow poetry/genre-defying nonfiction fans, congrats! This year, the MacArthur Foundation recognizes a true innovator, idol, and inspiration: Maggie Nelson.

If you're a regular Bustle Books reader, odds are you've heard of Nelson's work. A poet and a critic and a nonfiction writer whose work addresses issues related to queerness, sexuality, domestic life, obsession, and motherhood, Nelson told the Los Angeles Times that she sees a great tradition of writers who mix the personal and the analytical being honored by the MacArthur Foundation. And Nelson is firmly in line with those past "Geniuses" like Anne Carson and Ben Lerner, writers who defy categorization. Nelson's work is writing. All of it is different; all of it is good.

The author of five books of nonfiction, her most recent, The Argonauts , was touted as one of 2015's best books by more than a dozen publications, including the Chicago Tribune, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, GQ, and this one. She is also the author of several volumes of poetry and poetry scholarship.

The MacArthur Foundation says of Nelson:

In a 2015 interview with The Rumpus, Nelson spoke to the hybridity of her writing. She said:

Nelson joins a class of "Geniuses" that includes writers Claudia Rankine, Sarah Stillman, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Gene Luen Yang, and Lauren Redniss.