Jesmyn Ward

TineyHo / Flickr.com / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

An author who grew up poor in coastal Mississippi and now teaches at Tulane University is among this year's MacArthur fellows, receiving a so-called genius grant of $625,000: $125,000 a year for five years. 

 Jesmyn Ward says in a Tulane video that the fellowship offers freedom and time, which she feels are the two most important gifts for an artist. 

 Ward won the National Book Award in 2011 for her second novel, "Salvage the Bones." It's about a poor African-American family in coastal Mississippi as Hurricane Katrina forms, approaches and devastates the coast.