Nikki Zielinski

Cleveland, Ohio
September, 2016

Nikki Zielinski joins us in Sitka as the 2016 Rasmuson Foundation Artist in Residence at the Island Institute. Nikki's poetry explores the ways in which experiences of violence, both overt and institutional, shape one’s perception of and interaction with their communities and environments.

Strongly influenced by oral storytelling traditions, including fairy tales and folklore, Nikki finds influence in various art forms and media, including visual arts, dance, music, television, experimental theater/performance art, film, contemporary philosophy, and art theory.

Of her more recent approach to poetry, Nikki says, "Though my poems have always been musically focused and deeply engaged with the story-telling potential of the image, I have lately prioritized rhythmic momentum over more overt musical gestures (such as rhyme or scannable metrics) in an attempt to harness the mnemonic power of poetic form in newer, more flexible ways. In revising my work toward such musicality, I am also striving to build a personalized but permeable world of allusion from which I can draw, an imagism in which bodies transcend their objectification as muse and become instead independent, flawed, and utilitarian vehicles for expression; in which socially suppressed desires suffuse both body and landscape; in which the quieter violence of enforced silence and cultural invisibility manifests itself bodily and environmentally. As much as our memories and senses drive and shape our experiences of an environment or emotion, I strive in my work overall to create multidimensional sensory image-experiences that, though immediately apprehensible, accrue layers of meaning on further readings and contemplation."

Nikki Zielinski’s poems appear in Best New Poets 2016, Cincinnati Review, Bellingham Review, Meridian, Southern Humanities Review, Sou’Wester, Vinyl, Birmingham Poetry Review, PANK, New Madrid, and elsewhere. Since receiving her MFA from the University of Oregon, she has received prizes, residencies, and scholarships from such organizations as Djerassi, Sewanee Writers’ Conference, Ohio Arts Council, Bridport Arts Centre, Vermont Studio Center, and Sitka Center for Art and Ecology, as well as recent Pushcart and Forward Prize nominations. A freelance editor, she lives in Cleveland.


Sitka Sentinel story on Nikki Zielinski

Shannon Haugland wrote this story for the Sitka Sentinel about Island Institute poet-in-residence Nikki Zielinski. The story appeared on Oct 28, 2016. 

For centuries fairy tales have been used to introduce and address difficult subjects to children and adults.

But Island Institute’s current artist in residence wondered whether the same method would work to tackle uncomfortable topics in today’s world.

“It’s interesting to see how different cultures approach those subjects,” said Nikki Zielinski, a Cleveland, Ohio, poet who has been in Sitka since mid-September. “A lot of the history of folklore and fairy tales emerged not only as a form of entertainment but also (as lessons) about the possible dangers of growing up in the world and making it through adolescence.”

Meet and Greet with Nikki Zielinski

Wednesday, September 21, 2016 - 7:00pm to 9:00pm
304 Baranof St, Sitka, AK

Meet poet Nikki Zielinski as she begins her two month residency in Sitka at the Island Institute as part of the 2016 Rasmuson Foundation Artist Residency Program. Light refreshments will be served. Nikki will share recent work and discuss her influences and sources of inspiration.