Allyson Donato is a poet who received her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing with a concentration in poetry from Chatham University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with certificates in both nature and travel writing. She was the 2015 recipient of the Academy of American Poets Prize/Laurie Mansell Reich Award for poetry and a nominee for Best Poetry Thesis.
Her plan for her residency was as follows, "I would use this time at the New Zealand Pacific Studio to rework some of the poems from my thesis that were inspired by the theme of identity and home and also produce
new material for a collection I've titled "You Are Here." My experience caring for my father in his more rural Pennsylvania home, visiting him during extended stays in a center city Philadelphia hospital and then spreading his ashes on a New Jersey beach, a Scottish moor, and in an English garden triggered a renewed interest in exploring the relationship between place and grief. Writing this while in New Zealand, a place to which I've desired to call home since that first visit [in 2008], would be particularly poignant."