Darrel Alejandro Holnes is a poet, professor, and playwright from Panama City, Panama, and the former Panama Canal Zone. His plays have won him various awards including the Best New Play award from Wichita State University, the Farrar Prize in Playwriting at the University of Michigan and various grants including a Kitchen Theater Company New Play Development Grant and an Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation Production Grant. His plays have been presented as part of the Kennedy Center for the Arts College Theater Festival and the NOW African Playwrights Festival. His play TRIGGER was a recent finalist for the Princess Grace Award, his play STARRY NIGHT was a finalist for the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, and NATIVITY was selected for the 50PP List of top plays by Latinx playwrights in 2018. His plays have been developed in residency at the Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts, The Collective NY, the Virginia Center for Creative Arts through a National Endowment for the Arts grant, during an MFA Convening Residency at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center, and elsewhere. He has presented work at the National Black Theater, Second Stage Theater, Kitchen Theater Company, and elsewhere nationwide. He is also a member of the Lincoln Center Directors Lab, the Musical Theatre Factor's POC Roundtable, the Stillwater Writers Workshop, and the Page 73 Interstate 73 Writers Group.
His other plays are SHELL SHOCKED, AFRIKANISCH: THE STORY OF BLACKS IN BERLIN, THE BURNING ROOM, THE CRACKED CROWN, and more.
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.
Holnes then co-produced radio programs, using excerpts of his 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 (UM), from which he received his MFA in Creative Writing. A Presidential Inaugural Scholar and VFW Voice of Democracy scholarship recipient, Holnes declined a Fulbright to work with the poet Thylias Moss as a Zell Postgraduate Fellow and Zell Poetry Award winner at UM. Throughout the years, his research has been supported by various research grants and fellowships. He also studied Fine Art at the Universidad del Arte Ganexa, Jazz and Classical Music at the Instituto Nacional de Música in Panama, and Creative Writing at the University of Houston. His work was honored with US Congressional Recognition for high standards of excellence and outstanding achievement in civics and the arts.
He is also the recipient of several awards in poetry and scholarships or fellowships to Bread Loaf Writers Conference, Cave Canem, Canto Mundo, VCFA Postgraduate Writers Conference, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MA. His poems have appeared in English, Spanish, and French, in Poetry Magazine, American Poetry Review, Gulf Coast, Callaloo, Best American Experimental Writing, and elsewhere. His poems have been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes and were finalists for the "Discovery"/Boston Review Prize. He won the 2017 C.P. Cavafy Poetry Prize for Poetry International and was a finalist for the 2016 Split This Rock! National Poetry Prize, the 2017 National Poetry Series, the BOAAT Poetry Prize, the Rumi Prize in Poetry, and the Pablo Neruda Prize in Poetry. He is the co-editor of Happiness, The Delight-Tree: An Anthology of Contemporary International Poetry and the co-author of PRIME: Poetry & Conversations, an Over the Rainbow List selection by the American Library Association, and On Poetics, Identity & Latinidad: CantoMundo Poets Speak Out. He was also a recipient of the Cave Canem Residency at the Rose O’Neill Literary House.
He is an Assistant Professor of English in Creative Writing and Dramatic Writing at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, NY and currently teaches Dramatic Writing and Ethnographic Playwriting at New York University. At NYU, he also mentors playwrights in the Gallatin Summer Theater Lab and the Gallatin Theater Troupe, and serves as a Faculty Advisor. He has also taught Creative Writing and Screenwriting for TV at Rutgers University - New Brunswick, and has for years worked with writers worldwide as a consultant for the United Nation in partnership with their Society of Writers. He is an Editor-at-Large for Stage & Candor, a new theater news site dedicated to intersectionality, diversity, and inclusion in contemporary American theater, and currently divides his time between New York, NY and Los Angeles, CA.
For more information about him or his writing, teaching, and consulting services, reach out to him by clicking here.