Graduate Dean’s Medalist | Anthony Cody, Department of English, MFA Creative Writing Program

Anthony Cody, Department of English, MFA Creative Writing Student of Distinction

Students in the MFA Creative Writing Program are expected to write a book-length thesis throughout the three-year degree program. In that time, Anthony Cody has written two manuscripts–one of which, Borderland Apocrypha, won the prestigious Omnidawn Open Book Award in 2018 and was published in March 2020.

“Not only has Anthony demonstrated academic and creative excellence; his work is being recognized as creating new possibilities within the field of contemporary U.S. poetry,” said Brynn Saito, assistant professor.

His thesis, THE RENDERING, is a collection of poems that investigates the dust bowl era America.

“Anthony’s poetry combines traditional poetic strategies with language rearrangement, visual graphics, research, documents and design in the pursuit of a more complete and truthful digging into what has been–and what is,” said Dr. Corrinne Clegg Hales, professor emeritus.

Juan Felipe Herrera, Poet Laureate of the United States, 2015-17, called Cody a groundbreaking artist of the 21st century.

“Working with artists since the late sixties, on campus and in multiple communities across the United States, I must say that Anthony is one of the major figures in the new hybrid arts of creative writing, poetry, collage, soft sculpture and cross-media. His first and forthcoming book, Borderland Apocrypha (March 2020, Omnidawn Publishing) will attest to this — major prizes will come to him, there is no doubt,” said Herrera.

A quick glance at Cody’s Curriculum Vitae is impossible. It’s a six-page document which details a dizzying array of accomplishments. Currently, he is a graduate fellow at The Laureate Lab Visual/Wordlist Studio at Fresno State; he is the poetry editor for the journal Flies, Cockroaches, and Poets; the assistant poetry editor for Noemi Press; the editorial assistant of poetry for the Boom California publication; the communications manager for CantoMundo at the University of Arizona; and the communications coordinator for the Hmong American Writers’ Circle. And that’s just what he is doing right now. 

The last page and a half of his CV are a tightly bulleted list of awards and nominations, poetry readings, national conference presentations, art installations, and community involvement.

Cody was raised in the shadow of Fresno State in a humble neighborhood in southeast Fresno.

“People in my neighborhood barely graduate high school, let alone go to college or obtain advanced degrees, write poems, and make books,” Cody wrote in his narrative statement. “I can think of more altars for the murdered on my street than residents who have graduated from 4-year universities.”

He graduated from McLane High School and went on to receive his bachelor of arts in liberal studies with an emphasis in literature. In the MFA Creative Writing Program, he has received high praise from faculty for his work and his community involvement.

“As the winner of a competitive national book prize, a recipient of multiple fellowships and scholarships, and an advocate for marginalized voices in literature—both on campus and beyond—Anthony has far exceeded the standards for baseline excellence during his time in the Creative Writing degree program,” said Saito.

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The College of Arts and Humanities provides a diverse student population with the communication skills, humanistic values and cultural awareness that form the foundation of scholarship. The college offers intellectual and artistic programs that engage students and faculty and the community in collaboration, dialog and discovery. These programs help preserve, illuminate and nourish the arts and humanities for the campus and for the wider community.

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