Nicole Stellon O’Donnell

Nicole Stellon-O'DonnellConnie Boochever Award, Literary Arts, 2013
Alaska Literary Award, 2016

Nicole Stellon O’Donnell’s first collection, Steam Laundry, won the 2013 WILLA Literary Award for Poetry. Her poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Passages North, Beloit Poetry Journal, The Women’s Review of Books, Zyzzyva, and other literary journals. Her essays and commentaries appeared in the Anchorage Daily News on the Alaska Public Radio Network. She received both an Individual Artist Award and an Artist Fellowship from the Rasmuson Foundation, as well as a Boochever Fellowship from the Alaska Arts and Culture Foundation. In 2014, she served as the winter writer-in-residence at Denali National Park. In 2016, she spent a semester in India as a recipient of a Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching. She is juggling revisions on two books Everything Never Comes Your Way, (a collection of poems) and You Are No Longer in Trouble, (a group of thematically-linked prose poems) while simultaneously writing an as-yet-unnamed memoir.

First published in Zyzzyva (Spring 2015):

A Matter of Fact

— for D. C.

The bird’s small mind has no space for the tangle of curtains or solidity of glass. It has only one
room, a minute gallery, moments framed on the white walls: two greenish eggs in a nest built in
roots, grass gone to seed. Here, a marble bust of an ant. There, a portrait of menace in yellow
eyes. In the cat’s mind there’s a black door with a frosted window, backlit stencil reading
“private.” Inside, a single metal chair, a bare bulb swinging from the ceiling on a black cord. The
cat knows how this is going to end, but you don’t. That’s why you scramble to gather the bird
off the living room floor, even though its wing doesn’t look right. You tell yourself it needs
quiet. You tell the cat, Don’t kill birds. He blinks his yellow blink. He doesn’t tell himself
anything. In the morning, he drags the dead junco back into the kitchen. Muttering and reeling,
you sweep while feathers resist sweeping, floating just in front of the dust pan for a second
before renewing their flight.