Jennifer Willoughby

Jennifer Willoughby

Jennifer Willoughby is the recipient of the 2015 Lindquist & Vennum Prize for Poetry for her debut collection, Beautiful Zero, selected by Dana Levin. Her poetry has appeared in the Believer, Boston Review, Diagram, the Indiana Review, and elsewhere. She has received a McKnight Artist Fellowship, as well as the Academy of American Poets James Wright Award. A graduate of the University of Minnesota MFA program, Willoughby currently works as a freelance advertising copywriter. She lives in Minneapolis.

Lindquist & Vennum Prize for Poetry
McKnight Artist Fellowship
Academy of American Poets James Wright Award

Books by Jennifer Willoughby

Jennifer Willoughby

Incantatory, intimate, and incendiary, the winner of the 2015 Lindquist & Vennum Prize for Poetry is filled with explosive wit and humor. Yet even at their most surreal—whether taking as their subject a Kaiser Permanente hospital, Shark Week, or college football—these poems shine with heart and understanding.

Author Q & A

  • Question

    Your day job is freelance copywriting. What do you most enjoy about that work? How do poetry writing and copywriting relate?

    U of M English Department

    Copywriting is a dream job I lucked into. Both copywriting and poetry use compressed language to create an emotional response in an audience, and their toolboxes are remarkably similar. Slant rhyme, overt rhyme, alliteration, musicality, vivid imagery, and unexpected or surprising comparisons are a few shared traits. Both are in tune with the zeitgeist. One driver of successful advertising is its ability to create an identifiable moment that seems unforced, and to do that you have to put yourself in the shoes of other people and see how they view the situation. It’s a good thing to practice, for life and writing. As a freelance copywriter, I write about anything—babies, apps, cosmetics, the aging process—often things I know little about. So I am always researching new things and dreaming up voices or copy styles that will hook the audience. That process of trying on, discarding, or refining various voices happens in all kinds of writing. [Read more on the University of Minnesota’s English Department website]

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