Fellow: Awarded 2016
Field of Study: General Nonfiction
Competition: US & Canada
Paul Lisicky is an assistant professor in the Department of English and in the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Rutgers University, Camden. He is the author of five works in various genres including the nonfiction books The Narrow Door: A Memoir of Friendship (Graywolf Press, 2016), a New York Times Editors’ Choice, and Famous Builder (Graywolf Press, 2002); the story collection Unbuilt Projects (Four Way Books, 2012); and the novels The Burning House (Etruscan Press, 2011) and Lawnboy (Graywolf Press, 2006, Turtle Point Press, 1999). His work has appeared in The Atlantic, BuzzFeed, Conjunctions, Ecotone, Fence, The Iowa Review, The Offing, Ploughshares, and in many other magazines and anthologies. His awards include fellowships from Yaddo (2015 and 1995), the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown (1992-93, 1991-92), the James Michener/Copernicus Society (1991-92), the National Endowment for the Arts (1990), the Transatlantic Review/Henfield Foundation (1990), and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts (1988 and 1985). He has twice been a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award in Gay Men’s Fiction (2013) and in Autobiography (2003). As a visiting professor he has taught in the creative writing programs at Antioch University Los Angeles, Cornell University, New York University, Rutgers University Newark, Sarah Lawrence College, and the University of North Carolina-Wilmington.
With his Guggenheim Foundation fellowship, Lisicky will work on a nonfiction project Stay: A Memoir of Provincetown. As he says, “Stay is set on the tip of Cape Cod, from 1991-1994, just after I arrived as a Writing Fellow of the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. The AIDS Epidemic was its height. Many of those who lived in town were already ill, having come from other places to spend their last years in a supportive community, on a narrow strip of land surrounded on three sides by water.
Most of the narratives already written about that period think about the loss of a particular loved one. I want to write a different kind of story, one that seems important to write, now that medications might be on the way to turning HIV into a memory. How did an intensified sense of time shape the life of a town? How did that intensification affect everyone, whether they were LGBT or heterosexual, male or female, young or old, HIV-positive or negative, fisherman or landscape painter? How did it inform our sense of futurity, how we spent or saved our money, our romantic lives, our erotic lives, how we took care of ourselves, how we thought about spiritual matters—or not. How did joy manage to coexist with the deepest dread?”
Paul Lisicky currently lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and spends summers in Provincetown, Massachusetts.
Photograph credit: Star Black