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Darrel Holnes

Part-time Faculty
509 - 1 Wash Pl

Office Hours
Monday 5:30 TO 6:15
Friday 12:00 TO 3:00

B.A., English, University of Houston
M.F.A., Creative Writing, University of Michigan

Darrel Alejandro Holnes is an Afro-Panamanian American writer. His plays have received productions or readings at the Kennedy Center for the Arts American College Theater Festival (KCACTF), The Brick Theater, Kitchen Theater Company, Pregones Theater/PRTT, Primary Stages, and elsewhere. He is a member of the Lincoln Center Directors Lab, Civilians R&D Group, Page 73’s Interstate 73 Writers Workshop, and other groups. His play, Starry Night, was a finalist for the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s National Playwrights Conference and the Princess Grace Award in Playwriting. His play Bayano was also a finalist for the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s National Playwrights Conference. His most recent play, Black Feminist Video Game, was produced by The Civilians for 59E59, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Center Theater Group, and other venues and won an inaugural Anthem Award. He is the founder of the Greater Good Commission and Festival, a festival of Latinx short plays.   Holnes is the author of the poetry books Migrant Psalms (Northwestern University Press, 2021) and Stepmotherland (Notre Dame Press, 2022). He is the recipient of the Andres Montoya Poetry Prize from Letras Latinas, the Drinking Gourd Poetry Prize, and a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship in Creative Writing (Poetry). His poems have previously appeared in the American Poetry Review, Poetry, Callaloo, Best American Experimental Writing, and elsewhere. Holnes is a Cave Canem and CantoMundo fellow who has earned scholarships to the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Postgraduate Writers Conference at Vermont College of Fine Arts, and residencies nationwide, including a residency at MacDowell. His poem "Praise Song for My Mutilated World" won the C. P. Cavafy Poetry Prize from Poetry International. He is an assistant professor of English at Medgar Evers College, a senior college of the City University of New York (CUNY), where he teaches creative writing and playwriting, and a faculty member of the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University.   For more information visit

Awards & Honors


Stepmotherland by Darrel Alejandro Holnes Recognized with the 2022 Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize

Stepmotherland (Notre Dame Press, 2022), the first full-length poetry collection from Darrel Alejandro Holnes, was recognized with the 2022 Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize.


Poetry Prize

Darrel Alejandro Holnes was awarded the Andres Montoya Poetry Prize, which is for his full-length book of poems Stepmotherland, which is forthcoming from University of Notre Dame Press in 2021. Holnes was awarded the Drinking Gourd Poetry Prize for his chapbook Migrant Psalms, which is forthcoming from Northwestern University Press later this year.  




Darrel Alejandro Holnes announced Stepmotherland, (Notre Dame Press, February 2022) his first full-length collection of poems that chronicle and question identity, family, and allegiance.


Migrant Psalms

The Poetry Foundation hosted the launch of Migrant Psalms (Northwestern University Press, 2021) by Darrel Alejandro Holnes, winner of the 2021 Drinking Gourd Chapbook Poetry Prize.


PRIME: Poetry & Conversation

Saeed Jones, Ricky Laurentiis, Phillip B. Williams, L. Lamar Wilson, and Darrel Alejandro Holnes' poetry in, PRIME: Poetry & Conversation, was published by Sibling Rivalry Press LLC.


On Poetics, Identity & Latinidad: CantoMundo Poets Speak Out

Millicent Borges Accardi, Marcelo Hernandez Castillo, Amy Sayre Baptista, David Tomas Martinex, Ruben Quesada, and Darrel Alejandro Holnes' poetry in, On Poetics, Identity & Latinidad: CantoMundo Poets Speak Out was published by Essay Press.

Performances, Productions, Exhibitions & Releases



Current resident of the I AM SOUL - Playwright Residency Program, Darrel Alejandro Holnes, wrote Bayano, the story of an escaped African slave in 16th century Panama, performed on March 11-15, 2020 at the Dr. Barabara Ann Teer’s National Black Theatre Institute of Action Arts.  

Teaching and Research Interests

playwriting; poetry; performance art; transnational identity and issues; immigration; military culture; intersectionality; queer  Latino  and African diaspora studies; wellness  art as healing; ethnographic writing; historical fiction; textuality as visual art; music and musical theater 

Recent News


Professor Darrel Alejandro Holnes has been awarded a 2019 Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Holnes is among 35 recipients chosen from nearly 1,700 eligible applicants selected through a highly-competitive, anonymous, nationwide process. Works are judged solely on the artistic excellence of the work sample provided. Holnes is the first Panamanian-American to receive this fellowship.

Holnes received a CUNY Faculty Fellowship Publications Program Grant for his full-length play, Revuelto Road.

Holnes received a Faculty Innovation Award from Medgar Evers College.

Holnes was awarded a 2016 Cave Canem Summer Residency at the Rose O'Neill Literary House.

Holnes has been named a member of Page 73's Interstate 73 Writers Group and last summer became a member of the Lincoln Center Director's Lab. In 2017, he was named a finalist for the Van Lier Fellowship at The Lark Play Development Center and the 2050 Fellowship at New York Theater Workshop and for the Princess Grace Award in Playwriting.  


Holnes had his poems published in the American Poetry Review and featured in the Furious Flower Seeding the Future of African American Poetry anthology (Northwestern University Press, December 2019).

Holnes, along with Bhikshuni Weisbrot, and Elizabeth Lara, edited an anthology of poetry to honor of the UN International Day of Happiness, Happiness: The Delight-Tree, An Anthology of Contemporary International Poetry (United Nations SRC Society of Writers, 2015).


Holnes presented at “X — Past, Present, and Future of LatinX Studies: at Northwestern and Beyond” held at Northwestern University, in Evanston, Illinois on May 10, 2019. Darrel Alejandro Holnes participated in “The Impact of Race and Politics on Contemporary Black Playwrights,” held by the Association of Writers and Writing Programs in Portland, Oregon in 2019.

Holnes participated in “Poets Out of Place,” held by the Association of Writers and Writing Programs in Portland, Oregon in 2019.

Holnes presented "Beyond the BluePrint: A Poetry Reading and Panel Discussion on The Reconstructed Self" at Thinking Is Presence, University of Arizona, Poetry Center 2017 in Tucson, Arizona.


Holnes was named a I AM SOUL Resident Playwright at the National Black Theater in New York where his play, Bayano, will be performed from March 1-15, 2020.

Holnes had his play, Franklin Ave performed at SolFest: A LatinX Theater Festival at the Pregones Theater/PRTT on June 18 2019, Darrel Alejandro Holnes had his play,  Mimado/Mama’s Boy presented at Primary Stages as part of their Infinite Stories series presented by the NYC LatinX Playwrights Circle on May 29-30, 2019.

Holnes read a selection of poetry as part of the Migrants for Justice fundraiser reading at the Poetry Project on September 4, 2019, at the Poetry Cabaret at The Green Room 42 on September 7, 2019, and at the Marble House Project’s Art Seed on June 8, 2019. 

Darrel Holnes