Nickole Brown

North Carolina, United States

Member Since: 08/22/2012

As a poet with an MFA in Fiction, Nickole Brown has a strong leaning toward cross-genre work, which was demonstrated in her debut, a novel-in-poems called Sister (Red Hen Press, 2007), published to acclaim and reissued ten years later with a guide for survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Her second book, Fanny Says (BOA, 2015), is a biography-in-poems about her tough-as-new-rope grandmother from Kentucky. The collection won the Weatherford Award for Appalachian Poetry.

More recently, Brown’s writing employs hybridity to examine the relationship between humans and our more-than-human kin. Since 2016, she’s volunteered at several sanctuaries and rescues, and she’s been writing about these animals, resisting the kind of pastorals that made her (and many of the working-class folks from the Kentucky that raised her) feel shut out of nature and the writing about it. Her work speaks in a Southern-trash-talking way about nature beautiful, damaged, dangerous, and in desperate need of saving. A chapbook of these first nine poems, To Those Who Were Our First Gods, won the 2018 Rattle Prize, and her essay-in-poems, The Donkey Elegies, was published by Sibling Rivalry Press in 2020.

Early in her career, Brown studied literature at Oxford University, received her MFA from the Vermont College, and was the editorial assistant for the late Hunter S. Thompson. She has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Kentucky Foundation for Women, and the Kentucky Arts Council. For ten years, Brown worked at the nonprofit literary press, Sarabande Books. She was, for many years after, co-editor of the Marie Alexander Poetry Series. She’s currently a Fellow at the Black Earth Institute. As part of that, she co-edited with Erin Couglin Hollowell a guest issue of About Place Journal dedicated to the more-than-human world. She also co-edited with Craig Santos Perez the poetry selections for Elementals, an anthology forthcoming from The Center for Humans and Nature.

In 2021, Spruce Books of Penguin Random House published Write It! 100 Poetry Prompts to Inspire, a book of generative writing prompts she co-authored with Jessica Jacobs, with whom she founded what was the SunJune Literary Collaborative. She’s dedicated to her students and has taught at a number of places, including Orion Magazine’s Writing Workshops, Poets House, Hugo House, 24 Pearl Street at The Fine Arts Works Center at Provincetown, the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, and the University of Arkansas-Little Rock. In 2024, she was the Writer-in-Residence at Hollins University.

Currently, she lives in Asheville, North Carolina, where she is the President of The Hellbender Gathering of Poets, a nonprofit that sprung from what was the Palm Beach Poetry Festival. This organization aims to nurture a community hellbent on finding words that protect and repair our climate-changed world. Through an annual festival that celebrates the power of poetry, they welcome writers and readers alike into a joyful rising—one galvanized by environmental science, awareness, courage, and hope. The inaugural gathering will launch in Black Mountain, NC, in October of 2025.

Every summer, she teaches as part of the Sewanee School of Letters low-residency MFA program. She’s represented by Blue Flower Arts.








Twitter Username: @nickolebrown


  • Fanny Says: Poems , BOA (May 15)
  • Sister: A Novel-in-Verse , Red Hen Press (September 1, 2007)
  • To Those Who Were Our First Gods: A Chapbook , Rattle (December 1, 2018)
  • The Donkey Elegies , Sibling Rivalry Press (February 1, 2020)


  • Cultural Center of Cape Cod Poetry Competition(2013)
  • Orlando Poetry Prize, AROHO(2010)
  • NEA Fellowship(2009)
  • Weatherford Award in Appalachian Poetry(2015)


  • Assistant Professor at University of Arkansas at Little Rock (August 2011 - August 2015)
  • Faculty at Sewanee Young Writers Conference (June 2012 - )
  • Faculty at Murray State Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing (January 2009 - )
  • Editor at The Marie Alexander Poetry Series at White Pine (January 2009 - )
  • Director of Marketing & Development at Sarabande Books (August 1999 - August 2009)
  • Faculty at Sewanee School of Letters MFA (June 2017 - )
  • President at The Hellbender Gathering of Poets (August 2022 - )


  • Bachelor of Arts in English from University of Louisville (May 1996)
  • Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts (December 2003)

Genres of Interest

Creative nonfiction, Poetry