Mason alum Kelli Jo Ford receives 2022 NEA fellowship

Kelli Jo Ford outdoor portrait
Kelli Jo Ford. Photo by Val Ford Hancock

George Mason University alum and author Kelli Jo Ford, MFA Creative Writing '07, is the recipient of one of this year's National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowships in Creative Writing.

Ford's debut novel, “Crooked Hallelujah,” was named one of the best books of 2020 by Publishers Weekly and was on the longlist for the 2021 Carnegie Medal for Fiction, among other accolades.

Ford, who is a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, was also named to Oprah Magazine’s list of Native American Authors to Read Right Now in 2020.

The NEA fellowships provide published creative writers with $25,000 so they can set aside time for writing, research, travel, and general career advancement.

Ford teaches at the Institute of American Indian Arts’ Low Residency MFA Creative Writing program in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and said she plans to use the funding to dial back her teaching responsibilities this spring and take on fewer speaking events in order to begin work on a new novel.

"This summer, I hope to travel with my family back to the Cherokee Nation, where the book takes place, to research and write," she said.

Ford lives in Virginia with her husband and fellow MFA alum, poet Scott Weaver, and their daughter, Cypress.