Marjorie Welish, the Madelon Leventhal Rand Distinguished Lecturer in Literature, has won a 2014 Guggenheim Fellowship in the creative arts category. The prestigious award is bestowed upon mid-career professionals on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise.

“With the honor of this fellowship comes the privilege of being invited to do one’s own best work,” says Welish, who has authored several books of poetry, including In the Futurity Lounge/Asylum for Indeterminacy (Coffee House Press, 2012) and The Annotated “Here” and Selected Poems (Coffee House Press, 2000), which was a finalist for the Academy of American Poets’ Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize and a Village Voice Best Book of the Year.

The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation bestows more than 200 fellowships annually, worth tens of thousands of dollars each, and allows that fellows be relieved of many of their regular duties so that they can work with as much creative freedom as possible. The award will support Welish’s work on projects that she began when she received a Fulbright award years ago: Filmed installations—realized and projected—for an 18th- to 20th century project space in Edinburgh, Scotland, and the creation of works that track code-making and code-breaking in Ezra Pound and John Ashbery.

Welish credits her upbringing and specifically her father, a City College graduate and businessman who read poetry in his spare time, with sparking her literary interests.

“I remember quite vividly his looking up from the anthology of poetry compiled by Mark Van Doren to read lines aloud,” she says. “Beyond this, it was the culture of New York in its modern and avant-garde golden era that has shaped who I am now.”

Welish has garnered much acclaim in literary circles and has been described at once as thoughtful, edgy, and experimental with her use of language. In a career that spans more than 20 years, she has received many grants and fellowships for her poetry, among them Brown University’s George A. and Eliza Gardner Howard Fellowship, Cambridge University’s Judith E. Wilson Visiting Poetry Fellowship, and two fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts. A conference on her writing and art, produced at the University of Pennsylvania in 2002, resulted in the 300-page book, Of the Diagram: The Work of Marjorie Welish (Slought Books, 2003).

During her tenure at Columbia University and at Pratt Institute, Welish was offered the Rand chair. She has been teaching at Brooklyn College for three years and says she appreciates the opportunity to craft her courses in creative ways. She is currently teaching a group tutorial on contemporary experimental poetry that subjects the sentence to textual strategies of all sorts, as with OULIPO, a poetic technique that sometimes involves the use of mathematical constraints.

“Critical thinking is always on my mind,” Welish says. “After all, writers become their first readers and so must know how to ask a relevant question of themselves and how to learn matter beyond the talent they may possess.”