Award Winners / Artist Profile

About the Artist

Molly Tenenbaum (Seattle) is the author of three poetry collections: The Cupboard Artist, Now, and By a Thread. Her work appears in many journals, including The Beloit Poetry Journal, Best American Poetry 1991, Black Warrior Review, Crab Creek Review, Cutbank, The Mississippi Review, New England Review, Poetry, Poetry Northwest, and Willow Springs. Honors include a Hedgebrook residency and a 2013 grant from 4Culture. She’s also a banjo player: her recordings are Instead of a Pony and Goose & Gander. She teaches English at North Seattle College and music in her living room.

Molly received a 2014 GAP for software, design services, image reproduction, and licensing fees for an illustrated poetry book about ventriloquism. Her grandparents were ventriloquists in vaudeville from 1911 to 1925. Exercises To Free the Tongue originates in that family history and develops metaphors of voice and breath. The poems play ventriloquist tricks—with distant voices, sounds that can and can’t be said—while pondering ventriloquism’s history and psychological implications.

Molly received a 2005 GAP to attend the Vent Haven International Ventriloquist Convention. Her goal is to collect metaphors and imagery from the performances and workshops in order to create poetry out of materials collected. As her poetic voice becomes more flexible, Tenenbaum feels ready to embark on writing about childhood memories of her father performing at her birthday, and of the lessons she learned as a child from her grandparents who were ventriloquists in early vaudeville theater. Studying her family’s connection to an ongoing art form will help her develop language to translate into her poetry.

As part of her Fellowship’s Meet the Artist requirements,  Molly presented a Children’s Activity Booth at the Farmer’s Market in Duvall, that invited children and their parents to write poems about fruits and vegetables. Molly reported: “I think the best part of all this for me was to notice that it really made a difference to put encounters with poetry right in front of people, right in the middle of their walk through the street. The kids responded unhesitatingly, except for the one boy who wanted to paint with vegetables, and most of the parents did too. The solitary adults were a little less responsive, although many smiled and took some poetry prompts home with them.”

Information included above was provided by artist at the time of application.