Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio


Dates in Sitka: 2016-09

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.