CLAS Writer-in-Residence Dr. James Davis May Receives NEA Creative Writing Fellowship

Dr. James May

MACON – The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) today announced that Dr. James Davis May, writer-in-residence and lecturer in Mercer’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, is one of 35 writers who will receive this year’s NEA Creative Writing Fellowships.

The $25,000 fellowships enable recipients to set aside time for writing, research, travel and general career advancement. Fellows are selected through a highly-competitive, anonymous process and are judged on the basis of artistic excellence of provided work samples.

Dr. May, who serves as director of Mercer’s Creative Writing Program, was chosen from 1,601 eligible applicants nationwide.

“The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support these 35 talented poets through Creative Writing Fellowships,” said Amy Stolls, director of literary arts at the Arts Endowment. “These fellowships often provide writers with crucial support and encouragement, and in return our nation is enriched by their artistic contributions in the years to come.”

Dr. May joined Mercer’s faculty in fall 2019. His teaching interests include creative writing, Polish poetry and American poetry, particularly the work of Robert Frost.

He is the author of the poetry collection Unquiet Things (LSU Press), which was selected as a finalist for the Poets’ Prize. He won the Rattle Poetry Prize Readers’ Choice Award for his poem “Red in Tooth and Claw,” featured in Rattle No. 66. His poems have appeared in the New England Review, New Republic, Southern Review, The Sun and other journals.

Dr. May previously served as an assistant professor of English and creative writing at Young Harris College. He earned his Ph.D. from Georgia State University, M.F.A. from the University of Houston and B.A. from Allegheny College.

“Dr. May’s selection as an NEA Creative Writing Fellow is a testament to his remarkable talent as a poet,” said Dr. Anita Olson Gustafson, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “He is also a gifted teacher, and this honor will further build the strength of our Creative Writing Program.”

Since 1967, the Arts Endowment has awarded more than 3,600 Creative Writing Fellowships totaling more than $56 million. Many American recipients of the National Book Award, National Book Critics Circle Award and Pulitzer Prize in Poetry and Fiction were recipients of NEA fellowships early in their careers.

Visit to browse bios, artist statements and writing excerpts from a sample of past Creative Writing Fellows.

About the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Mercer University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences serves as the academic cornerstone of one of America’s oldest and most distinctive institutions of higher learning. The oldest and largest of Mercer’s 12 schools and colleges, it is a diverse and vibrant community, enrolling more than 1,900 students, dedicated to learning and service through the practice of intellectual curiosity, respectful dialogue and responsible citizenry. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences offers majors in more than 30 areas of study, including more than a dozen pre-professional academic tracks, with classes taught by an outstanding faculty of scholars. In 2015, Mercer was awarded a chapter of The Phi Beta Kappa Society, the nation’s most prestigious academic honor society that recognizes exceptional achievement in the arts and sciences. For more information, visit