Announcing the 2022 Winners of the Kraft-Kinsey Award

The Kraft-Kinsey Award supports a writing project by an Indiana University MFA student that makes substantial use of the Kinsey Institute’s materials and archives. The award is a unique opportunity for emerging writers to give voice to issues of human sexuality, as exemplified by the Kinsey Institute and its collections, while simultaneously discovering new connections between human sexuality and art. The award of $1,000 is made possible through partnership between Kinsey Institute and the Creative Writing Program at Indiana University, and funded by the Martha C. Kraft endowment.

Congratulations to our 2022 winners: Katelin Carlton and Tyler Raso.

Katelin Carlton

Katelin Marie Carlton is a teaching artist and MFA candidate in Poetry at Indiana University. She is currently working on a thesis project, The Something Bible, comprised of poems and lyric essays to serve as devotional oracles and stories to relearn purity, with vigilant gentleness, through love and profanity; lineage and disaster. She writes into her familial mythology of Black womanhood, spirituality and sexuality to explore alchemic possibilities made through the holy abject. Here, desire may be synonym for bewilderment—both a state of wonder, both unbound, and both growing wilder upon meditation; or at least they could. Moreover, sexuality is perhaps a synonym for possibility as they both wonder into capacity, are sacred, we seek to name them and they escape us.

This work of exploring purity, within sexuality and desire as investigated through her own experiences, wonders, and familial archive of books and photographs, will be needfully deepened by engaging with the collections at the Kinsey Institute. Katelin will engage with Dr. Gina Ogden’s 4-Dimensional Wheel and Sex-Spirit Survey Data, the Dwoods Collection, and Dr. Stephen Porges’ work on trauma. The project wonders into poetic recreations of sexual surveys and interviews that strive to synthesize identities that become wayward archetypes through possibilities of the erotic imagination: the sacred profane, with earth as both witness and subject. She considers research as a praxis of studying myth, considering Sylvia Wynter’s concept that “…we are not Homo sapiens, we are Homo narrans, not the ones who know, but the ones who tell ourselves that we know…we therefore have the capacity to know differently. We are word made by flesh. But we make words. So we can make ourselves anew.”  She hopes to create a kindred community practice of making anew, of re-mything forgotten figures and desire as alchemic, possible—and possibly not consumptive, but healing. This work leans on the prayer, Lord increase my bewilderment, or increase my desire as we imagine into sound, pleasure, joy and shamelessness within the body.

Tyler Raso

Tyler Raso is an MFA candidate in Poetry at Indiana University whose current work reaches toward a collaborative poetics with their childhood selves across time. Thinking with the complications of “the closet” as a portable figure of queer identity, they’re most concerned, at present, with transformation, joy, literal and figurative confinement, and the failures and absences of language. Beginning with their upbringing in an Evangelical, military family, with the ways in which they stole queer time from a straight world, they write and dream toward queerness as prismatic, and a site of belonging. In this, they work through lyric questioning, fragmentary narrative, to, as much as possible, cut against the grain of gender-as-objecthood, to open toward a queer, trans, utopic self/ves-making or world/s-making. This means, their work is primarily interested in rupture, in unlearning.

As their project witnesses and interrogates vocabularies of objecthood, they hope to work with the Kinsey Institute collections to expand into a tender, messy, transformative invocation of queer possibility in the material world. To think with, especially, toys, dolls, puppets as windows into or witnesses of queer discovery. The Kinsey Institute’s selections of theoretical groundings in sexual development in childhood and gender nonconformity will root the exploration, while material centered on primary and imaginative experience of objects (as an expansive category) like Barbie Culture, or William’s Doll, and pulp fiction like The Dollmaker will give shape to the curiosity, how the objects we live with or through contain, invoke, or name desires or intimacies beyond the grasp of language.

For over 75 years, the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University has been a trusted source for investigating critical issues in sex, gender and reproduction and advancing sexual health and knowledge worldwide. The Kinsey Institute Collections encompass print materials, film and video, fine art, artifacts, photography, and archives that focus on human sexuality. The Institute has collected publications, objects, art, and data from six continents, and its holding span more than 2,000 years of human history and run the gamut of technologies—from ink on paper, to DVD and digital records. 

For more information about the Kraft-Kinsey Award for MFA Students, please contact Dr. Samrat Upadhyay, Martha C. Kraft Professor of the Humanities, at 812-856-5882 or supadhya@indiana.edu.  

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