Under McCrae’s leadership, the press has published authors awarded and nominated for the Nobel Prize, the Pulitzer Prize, the Booker Prize, the Booker International Prize, the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the International Dublin Literary Award. Graywolf’s authors include Elizabeth Alexander, Eula Biss, Jamel Brinkley, Anna Burns, Tsitsi Dangarembga, Natalie Diaz, Percival Everett, Jakob Guanzon, Leslie Jamison, Layli Long Soldier, Carmen Maria Machado, Maggie Nelson, Dorthe Nors, Max Porter, Claudia Rankine, Marieke Lucas Rijneveld, Vijay Seshadri, Danez Smith, Tracy K. Smith, Mary Szybist, and Kevin Young.
McCrae is the only second publisher to ever lead Graywolf, preceded by its founder, Scott Walker, who established Graywolf in 1974 to publish poetry chapbooks. McCrae took over Graywolf soon after the press had announced a $200,000 deficit in 1993 and led them to record highs for annual giving and fundraising campaigns, the latest of which raised $3 million by the time it completed last month. She expanded the reach of Graywolf by working with staff to form partnerships with a host of other organizations, including the Library of Congress, the Academy of American Poets, the Poetry Foundation, the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conferences, and Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, as well as others. She oversaw the creation of Graywolf’s National Council, the Citizen Literary Fellowship, the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize, and the African Fiction Prize.
McCrae is currently Vice Chair of the National Book Foundation board, a board member of the Anderson Center and the literary journal Fence, and an advisor for Orion Magazine. In 2014, she was awarded the CLMP Golden Colophon for leadership and in 2017 received the Poets & Writers Editor’s Awards along with Graywolf Executive Editor Jeff Shotts.
Speaking on her years at Graywolf, McCrae said, “It’s an emotional moment to think about stepping away from this beloved press that has allowed me to flourish over so many years. It’s been a marvelous adventure and I am so grateful to all the incredible individuals I have had the pleasure of working with, from the exceptional staff and board to all our cherished and talented writers. Their words have changed and enriched me in countless ways. I have loved it all: discovering new writers, seeing new covers come together, traveling to meet national and international colleagues, the successes—large and small, the readings, the conferences and book fairs. Such riches—I have been so lucky. Thanks to the generosity of our supporters the press is in robust shape, ready for a fresh vision to guide it to its new chapter.”
A committee lead by Cathy Polasky, the chair of Graywolf’s Board of Directors, is launching a national search for the next director and publisher. Polasky said, “We celebrate Fiona’s twenty-seven years of dedication to the organization and recognize the enormous future potential of Graywolf. Fiona herself has often told us that change is opportunity, so we look forward to ensuring that new leadership builds on the strength that she has helped to create while forging new paths for Graywolf.”