I’m a Writer, Poet, and Illustrator.
Arao Ameny is a Maryland-based poet and writer from Lango, Northern Uganda. She is a multi-genre writer with a focus on poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. She is currently a Biography Writer and Editor at the Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry Magazine. She earned her MFA in Fiction Writing from University of Baltimore in 2019. She also earned an MA in Journalism from Indiana University and a BA in Political Science with minors in International Relations and Communications from University of Indianapolis. She is a former Fiction Editor and Copy Editor at Welter, a literary journal at University of Baltimore. Her first published poem “Home is a Woman” won The Southern Review’s 2020 James Olney Award. In 2021, she was a finalist for the UK-based Brunel International African Poetry Prize, a nominee for Best New Poets anthology (USA), and a winner of a Brooklyn Poets Fellowship.
Ameny is recipient of the 2022 Mayor’s Individual Artist Award from the Creative Baltimore Fund, a grant from Mayor Brandon Scott, the City of Baltimore, and The Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts (BOPA). She is also a recipient of the Poets & Writers’ Open Door Career Advancement Grant for women writers of color. The workshops she has attended include Tin House and Kenyon Review Writers Workshop. Her favorite writer is Zimbabwean novelist, short story writer, playwright and poet Dambudzo Marechera. Previously, she worked in communications at New York City government and as a writer, social media editor at Africa Renewal magazine at the United Nations in New York City.
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Video from The Southern Review literary journal
Arao Ameny reads her award-winning poem, “Home Is a Woman” from our Spring 2020 issue, for the United Nations’s UN Office of the Special Adviser on Africa.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where were your born? Uganda, East Africa. I spent my early childhood in Uganda and grew up in the States.
Education: MFA in Creative Writing (Fiction), University of Baltimore; MA in Journalism, Indiana University; BA in Political Science, minors in International Relations and Communications, University of Indianapolis
Pronunciation: The phonetic spelling and pronunciation of my first name Arao is \ə-ˈrau̇\. (It rhymes with the English word ‘allow’, except with an ‘R’ sound instead of an ‘L’ sound).
Origin of names: In my language leb Lango, Arao means ‘to gather, to collect’ and Ameny means ‘to bring light’
What is your favorite book? House of Hunger by Zimbabwean writer and poet Dambudzo Marechera