Joy Priest was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky. She is the author of Horsepower (Pitt Poetry Series, 2020), selected by U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethwey as the winner of the Donald Hall Prize for Poetry. She is the recipient of a 2021 NEA fellowship, a 2019-2020 Fine Arts Work Center fellowship, and the Stanley Kunitz Memorial Prize from the American Poetry Review. Her poems have appeared in the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day series, The Atlantic, and Virginia Quarterly Review, among others, and her essays have appeared in The Bitter Southerner, Poets & Writers, ESPN, and The Undefeated. Joy received her M.F.A. in Poetry, with a certificate in Women & Gender Studies from the University of South Carolina. She is currently editing an anthology of Louisville poets, forthcoming from Sarabande Books.
"Horsepower, Joy Priest's debut collection, is a captivating display of might and elegance, a language of astonishing sinew through which the backdrop of place and a compelling life come into vivid focus. Undergirding these poems is a restless, resilient spirit: an urgent grappling with the desire to both remember and outrun the past, with history both personal and communal, and the complexities of American racism in its most intimate manifestation—familial love. I had, for / years, Priest writes, been taught to live that way. Black, unassuming, / zipped up in history. . . . Throughout this remarkable debut, Priest shows us what it means to clear the stall, break out of the traces, and run unbridled into life."