Darrel Alejandro Holnes is a poet, playwright, and researcher from Panama City, Panama, and the former Panama Canal Zone.
His plays have won or been finalists for various awards and honors including the Princess Grace Award in Playwriting, Eugene O'Neill Theater Center's National Playwrights Conference, WSU’s Best New Play, Farrar Prize in Playwriting, and the Hopwood Award in Drama at the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor. He’s been awarded various grants including a Kitchen Theater Company New Play Development Grant, Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation Production Grant, and the Jerome Foundation Travel and Study Grant in Literature. His plays have been presented as part of the Kennedy Center for the Arts College Theater Festival (KCACTF), NOW African Playwrights Festival, Brick Theater's Festival of Lies, Keep Soul Alive! at the National Black Theater, and elsewhere nationwide. He is a MacDowell fellow in playwriting and a member of the Lincoln Center Directors Lab, Page 73’s Interstate 73 Writers’ Group, the Musical Theater Factory’s POC Roundtable, and the Stillwater Writers Workshop. His play NATIVITY was selected for the 50PP List of top unproduced plays by Latinx playwrights in 2018.
He is the recipient of a 2019 National Endowment of the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship in Poetry and fellowships or scholarships to the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, Cave Canem, CantoMundo, and other creative writing conferences and workshops. His poetry has been awarded with the C.P. Cavafy Prize from Poetry International and his poetry was a finalist for the National Poetry Series, BOAAT Poetry Prize, Cave Canem Poetry Prize, Pushcart Prize in Poetry, Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Prize, Brittingham & Pollak Poetry Prizes, Split this Rock! National Poetry Prize, the “Discovery”/Boston Review Poetry Prize, Pablo Neruda Prize in Poetry from the Nimrod International Journal of Prose and Poetry, and others. His poetry has been published in American Poetry Review, Poetry Magazine, Callaloo, Best American Experimental Writing, Gulf Coast, and elsewhere in print and online.
As a researcher, Holnes conducted ethnographic interviews for the Surviving Katrina and Rita in Houston (SKRH) project directed by Dr. Carl Lindahl and Pat Jasper, PhD, in partnership with the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress and the University of Houston. He presented his fieldwork and research for SKRH at the American Folklore Society’s Annual Meeting with the Folklore Studies Association of Canada in Quebec City, Canada. Holnes and members of the SKRH team were featured in TIME Magazine as “Innovative Storytellers” for their work on the project. Throughout the years, his research has been supported by various research grants and research fellowships.
Holnes co-produced radio programs, using excerpts of his SKRH ethnographic interviews, which aired on NPR affiliate stations throughout the Gulf Coast region. He further studied ethnographic research and writing with anthropologist Dr. Ruth Behar at the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, from which he received his MFA in Creative Writing. A Presidential Inaugural Scholar and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Voice of Democracy scholarship recipient, Holnes declined a Fulbright to work with the poet Thylias Moss as the recipient of a Zell Poetry Award from UM.
He also studied Fine Arts at the Universidad del Arte Ganexa, Jazz and Classical Music at the Instituto Nacional de Música in Panama (INAC), and Creative Writing at the University of Houston from which he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree.
His work in the arts has been recognized by the White House, VFW, National Endowment for the Arts, and US Congress. He is the editor and co-author of various books and has worked as a consultant to the United Nations. Holnes is currently an Assistant Professor at Medgar Evers College, and teaches at New York University. He is also the I Am Soul Resident Playwright at the National Black Theater in New York, NY.