Poet Sean Hill was born and raised in Milledgeville, a small city in Central Georgia. He was drawn to poetry in college, where he studied with Judith Ortiz Cofer and discovered the work of poetic influences including Rita Dove, Yusef Komunyakaa, Seamus Heaney, Marilyn Nelson, Sterling Brown, and C.P. Cavafy. Hill earned his MFA from the University of Houston in 2003 and was awarded a Jay C. and Ruth Halls Poetry Fellowship at the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing in 2006.
Hill is the author of two poetry collections: Dangerous Goods (Milkweed Editions, 2014), winner of the Minnesota Book Award in Poetry, and Blood Ties & Brown Liquor (UGA Press, 2008), named one of the “Ten Books All Georgians Should Read” by the Georgia Center for the Book in 2015. His poems and prose have appeared in journals such as Callaloo, Harvard Review, New England Review, Orion, Oxford American, Poetry, Tin House, Ploughshares, Terrain.org, and many others, and in over two dozen anthologies, including Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry and Villanelles. His poems have also been featured on Poem-a-Day and The Slowdown. Poems selected from his two books have been translated into a book published in South Korea. In 2015, Hill collaborated with musician Eric Des Marias on Distance Grows in the Bones, an album incorporating his series of postcard-themed poems from Dangerous Goods.
Hill’s work, informed by his own travels and by in-depth cultural research, threads together themes of Black and American history, migration, alienation, and belonging. Per CutBank, “Sean Hill’s poems on landscapes, Southern identity, and African American community…subvert expectations while adhering to timeless poetic forms.” His numerous awards include fellowships from Cave Canem, the Region 2 Arts Council, the Bush Foundation, Minnesota State Arts Board, the Jerome Foundation, the MacDowell Colony, and the University of Wisconsin–Madison, as well as a Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University and a Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Hill has served as the director of the Minnesota Northwoods Writers Conference at Bemidji State University since 2012. He is a consulting editor at monthly broadside published Broadsided Press. Hill has taught at several universities, including the University of Alaska–Fairbanks and Georgia Southern University. He currently lives in southwestern Montana with his family and is an Assistant Professor in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Montana.
Discover more on Sean Hill
Text: Read four poems by Hill at Academy of American Poets
Audio: Listen to Hill’s poem “Hello” at The Slowdown
Text: Hill discusses the villanelle, Bishop, Thomas, and his own “Insurance Man 1946” at Mentor and Muse