I’m a Writer, Poet, and Illustrator.
Arao Ameny is a Maryland-based poet and writer from Lango, Northern Uganda. Her first-published poem “Home is Woman” appeared in The Southern Review and won the 2020 James Olney Award. Her second-published poem “The Mothers” appeared in the World Literature Review for Black Voices, a special series guest-edited by poet Mahtem Shiferraw and sponsored by the WLT Puterbaugh Endowment, which makes possible the Puterbaugh Lit Fest, and was later selected by guest editor and poet Paula Bohince and series editor Jeb Livingood for the 2022 Best New Poets Anthology. In January 2023, her first published story “Atat” appeared in the Relations: An Anthology of African and Diaspora Voices edited by Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond.
Other awards and honors include the 2021 Brooklyn Poets Fellowship, Brooklyn Poets Poet of the Week (November 29-December 5, 2021), 2022 Periplus Fellowship finalist, 2021 Brunel International African Poetry Prize finalist, 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), and a recipient of 2021 Poets & Writers’ Open Door Career Advancement Grant.
Ameny earned an MFA in fiction writing from the University of Baltimore in 2019, an MA in journalism from Indiana University and a BA in political science with minors in international relations and communications from the University of Indianapolis. She is a former fiction editor and copyeditor at Welter, a literary journal at the University of Baltimore. Currently, she is doing a one-year contract role as a biography writer and editor at Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine.
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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