Emerging Voices Fellowship Hero Image With Headshots

2021 Emerging Voices Fellows and Mentors

PEN America welcomes the 2021 Emerging Voices Fellows. Now in its 25th year, an expanded cohort of 14 fellows who represent a broad range of experiences, and are based in ten different states across the country, will partake in a five-month immersive mentorship program with virtually accessible programs that emphasize the business of books.

The 14 fellows were selected from the largest applicant pool in the program’s history. The final selection committee included poet and founder of Costura Creative Eloisa Amezcua; vice president and editor-in-chief of Counterpoint Press Dan Smetanka; literary agent at Folio Literary Management Erin Harris; writer and fiction editor at Barrelhouse Christopher Gonzalez; and author and contributing writer at The New Yorker Lauren Michele Jackson.

PEN America 2021 Emerging Voices Winner Nefertiti Asanti By Beowulf Sheehan

Nefertiti Asanti (Fellow)

POETRY
Oakland, CA
Pronouns: they/she

Nefertiti Asanti is a poet born and raised in the Bronx and a recipient of fellowships and residencies from the Watering Hole, EmergeNYC, Lambda Literary, Anaphora Arts, Winter Tangerine, and the Hurston/Wright Foundation. Nefertiti’s forthcoming chapbook fist of wind won the inaugural Start a Riot! Chapbook Prize sponsored by Still Here San Francisco, RADAR Productions, and Foglifter. Nefertiti currently serves as prose poetry editor of Stellium Literary Magazine.

Photo: Beowulf Sheehan

Phillip B. Williams Headshot

Phillip B. Williams (Mentor)

Pronouns: he/him

Phillip B. Williams is from Chicago, IL. He is the author of the books Mutiny (Penguin Books, 2021) and Thief in the Interior (Alice James Books, 2016), winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award. He currently teaches at Bennington College and Randolph College’s low-residency MFA program. Williams will be mentoring Nefertiti Asanti.


PEN America 2021 Emerging Voices Winner KB Brookins By Beowulf Sheehan

KB (Fellow)

POETRY
Austin, TX
Pronouns: they/them

KB is a Black queer nonbinary miracle. They are the author of the chapbook How to Identify Yourself with a Wound, winner of the 2020 Saguaro Poetry Prize. Follow them online at @earthtokb.

Photo: Beowulf Sheehan

Jubi Arriola-Headley Headshot

Jubi Arriola-Headley (Mentor)

Pronouns: he/him, they/them

Jubi Arriola-Headley is a Blacqueer poet, storyteller, and first-generation United Statesian who lives with his husband in South Florida and whose work explores themes of masculinity, vulnerability, rage, tenderness, and  joy. He is a 2018 PEN America Emerging Voices Fellow, holds an MFA from the University of Miami, and his poems have been published with Ambit, Beloit Poetry Journal, Literary Hub, Nimrod, Southern Humanities Review, The Nervous Breakdown, and elsewhere. Jubi’s debut collection of poems, original kink, is available now from Sibling Rivalry Press. Jubi will be mentoring KB.


PEN America 2021 Emerging Voices Winner Jerakah Greene By Beowulf Sheehan

Jerakah Greene (Fellow)

FICTION
Tulsa, OK
Pronouns: they/them

Jerakah Greene is a fiction writer whose work explores queerness, gender identity, and their hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Jerakah's writing has been published in Hair Trigger, Crabfat Magazine, Impossible Archetype, and the Lab Review. In 2019, they were twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Photo: Beowulf Sheehan

Genevieve Hudson Headshot

Genevieve Hudson (Mentor)

Pronouns: they/them

Genevieve Hudson is the author of the novel Boys of Alabama, which was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award, and the story collection Pretend We Live Here, which was shortlisted for a Lambda Literary Award. Their work has appeared in ELLE; O, the Oprah Magazine; McSweeney’s; Catapult; and other places. They have received fellowships from the Fulbright Program, MacDowell, Caldera Arts, and the Vermont Studio Center, and they live in Portland, OR. Genevieve will be mentoring Jerakah Greene.


PEN America 2021 Emerging Voices Winner Stephan Herrera By Beowulf Sheehan

Stephan Sebastian Herrera (Fellow)

FICTION
New York, NY
Pronouns: he/him

Stephan Sebastian Herrera is an Ecuadorian-American writer. His fiction has appeared in Latino Book Review and The Acentos Review, and he was a 2020 finalist in the Tucson Festival of Books Literary Awards. He is originally from Arizona and now lives in Brooklyn.

Photo: Beowulf Sheehan

Cristina Henriquez Headshot, Photo Credit: Michael Lionstar

Cristina Henríquez (Mentor)

Pronouns: she/her

Cristina Henríquez is the author of the novels The Book of Unknown Americans and The World in Half and of the short story collection Come Together, Fall Apart. Her work has appeared in numerous publications including The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times Magazine. Cristina will be mentoring Stephan Sebastian Herrera.

Photo: Michael Lionstar


PEN America 2021 Emerging Voices Winner Lisa Herrick By Beowulf Sheehan

Lisa Lee Herrick (Fellow)

CREATIVE NONFICTION
Fresno, CA
Pronouns: she/her

Lisa Lee Herrick is an award-winning Hmong-American writer, illustrator, and media producer based in California. She is the co-founder of the LitHop literary festival, editor at large for Hyphen magazine, serves in a media advising capacity for several nonprofit organizations, and is currently working on her first memoir—a collection of personal essays—and a graphic novel.

Photo: Beowulf Sheehan

Kao Kalia Yang Headshot

Kao Kalia Yang (Mentor)

Pronouns: she/her

Kao Kalia Yang is a Hmong-American writer. She is the author of the memoirs The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir, The Song Poet: A Memoir of My Father, and Somewhere in the Unknown World: A Collective Refugee Memoir. Yang is also the author of the children’s books A Map Into the World, The Shared Room, The Most Beautiful Thing, and Yang Warriors. She co-edited the ground-breaking collection What God is Honored Here?: Writings on Miscarriage and Infant Loss by and for Native Women and Women of Color. Kalia’s work has been recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts, National Book Critics Circle Award, Chautauqua Prize, PEN America Literary Awards, Dayton Literary Peace Prize, as Notable Books by the American Library Association, Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of the Year, the Heartland Booksellers Award, and garnered four Minnesota Book Awards. She lives in Minnesota with her family, and teaches and speaks across the nation. Kalia will be mentoring Lisa Herrick.


PEN America 2021 Emerging Voices Winner Joana Hong

Joanna Hong (Fellow)

FICTION
Los Angeles, CA
Pronouns: she/her

Joanna Hong is a writer and translator. Originally from Los Angeles, she has lived in Europe for nearly a decade and she speaks Korean, German, Italian, French, and Spanish. Her work can be found on Dazed & Confused, Newsweek, The Guardian, and other outlets.

Photo: Beowulf Sheehan

Patricia Engel Headshot

Patricia Engel (Mentor)

Pronouns: she/her 

Patricia Engel is the author of Infinite Country, a New York Times bestseller and Reese’s Book Club pick; The Veins of the Ocean, winner of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize; It’s Not Love, It’s Just Paris, winner of the International Latino Book Award; and Vida, a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway and Young Lions Fiction Awards, New York Times Notable Book, and winner of the Premio Biblioteca de Narrativa Colombiana (Colombia’s national book award). She is a recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Her stories appear in The Best American Short Stories, The Best American Mystery Stories, The O. Henry Prize Stories, and elsewhere. Born to Colombian parents and raised in New Jersey, Patricia is an associate professor of creative writing at the University of Miami. Patricia will be mentoring Joanna Hong.


PEN America 2021 Emerging Voices Winner Lilly Nguyen By Beowulf Sheehan

Lilly U. Nguyen (Fellow)

CREATIVE NONFICTION
San Diego, CA
Pronouns: she/her

Lilly U. Nguyen is a writer based in San Diego, CA. She earned her BA from UC Berkeley and her PhD from UCLA, where she specialized in feminist science and technology studies. She is a former recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship and recently was awarded a Tin House Summer Residency. She is preparing a book of essays, tentatively titled This Wound I Give You Is a Gift. The book considers the questions of war, inheritance, obligation, and the refugee self.

Photo: Beowulf Sheehan

Nadia Owusu Headshot

Nadia Owusu (Mentor)

Pronouns: she/her

Nadia Owusu is a Ghanaian and Armenian-American writer and urbanist. Her first book, Aftershocks, A Memoir, topped many most-anticipated and best book of the year lists, including The New York Times; O, the Oprah Magazine, Vogue; TIME; Vulture; and the BBC. It was a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice.

Nadia is the recipient of a 2019 Whiting Award. Her lyric essay, “So Devilish a Fire,” won The Atlas Review’s chapbook contest. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in The New York Times, The Lily, Orion Magazine, Granta, The Paris Review’s “The Daily,” The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, Slate, Catapult, Bon Appétit, Travel + Leisure, and others. Nadia will be mentoring Lilly U. Nguyen.


PEN America 2021 Emerging Voices Winner Kimberly Nguyen By Beowulf Sheehan

Kimberly Nguyen (Fellow)

POETRY
Long Island City, NY
Pronouns: she/her

Kimberly Nguyen is a Vietnamese-American poet originally from Omaha, NE but currently living in New York City. She is a recent graduate of Vassar College, where she was a recipient of a Beatrice Daw Brown Prize for poetry. Her work can be found in diaCRITICSperhappened magHobartMuzzle Magazine, and others.

Photo: Beowulf Sheehan

Paul Tran Headshot

Paul Tran (Mentor)

Pronouns: they/them

Paul Tran is the author of the debut poetry collection, All the Flowers Kneeling, forthcoming from Penguin Poets in February 2022. Their work appears in The New Yorker, The Nation, Good Morning America, and elsewhere, including the Lionsgate movie Love Beats Rhymes with Azealia Banks, Common, and Jill Scott. Paul is the first Asian American since 1993—and first transgender poet ever—to win the Nuyorican Poets Cafe’s Grand Slam, placing top 10 at the Individual World Poetry Slam and top two at the National Poetry Slam. A winner of the Discovery Poetry Contest by Boston Review and the 92nd Street Y Unterberg Poetry Center, as well as fellowships from the Poetry Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, Paul is a Visiting Faculty in Poetry at Pacific University’s MFA in Writing and a Wallace Stegner Fellow in poetry at Stanford University. Paul will be mentoring Kimberly Nguyen.


Rochelle Marrett Headshot Photo Credit Beowulf Sheehan

Rochelle Marrett (Fellow)

FICTION
Detroit, MI
Pronouns: she/her

Rochelle Marrett is a Jamaican writer whose work seeks, at once, to be both an ode to her country and a critical examination of certain socio-political sentiments. Her writing also strives to articulate the everyday complexities of Black immigrant life in a manner that is a compelling and unsettling disruption of long-held assumptions. Most recently, Rochelle has been longlisted for the 2021 Disquiet Fiction Prize and a 2019 recipient of the Room Project Fellowship. Rochelle holds a BA in English from The College of Wooster. Currently she resides in Michigan with her husband and daughter. She is at work on her first novel.

Photo: Beowulf Sheehan

Maisy Card Headshot

Maisy Card (Mentor)

Pronouns: she/her

Maisy Card is the author of These Ghosts Are Family, the fiction category winner for the 2021 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature and finalist for several awards, including the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel and the Los Angeles Times’s Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction. Her writing has appeared in The Paris Review’s “The Daily,” Literary Hub, The New York Times, Guernica, and other publications. She was born in St. Catherine, Jamaica, but was raised in Queens, NY. She is currently an instructor at the Sackett Street Writers’ Workshop and a fiction editor at The Brooklyn Rail. Maisy will be mentoring Rochelle Marrett.


PEN America 2021 Emerging Voices Winner Shanda McManus By Beowulf Sheehan

Shanda McManus (Fellow)

CREATIVE NONFICTION
Fair Haven, NJ
Pronouns: she/her

Shanda McManus is a physician writer. She has practiced family medicine for over twenty years. Her writing has been featured or forthcoming in Intima Journal of Narrative Medicine, Midnight & Indigo, and Bellevue Literary Review. Shanda lives in New Jersey with her husband and their five children.

Photo: Beowulf Sheehan

Bridgett Davis Headshot, Photo Credit: Nina Subin

Bridgett M. Davis (Mentor)

Pronouns: she/her

Bridgett M. Davis is the author of the memoir The World According To Fannie Davis: My Mother’s Life In The Detroit Numbers, a New York Times Editors’ Choice, a 2020 Michigan Notable Book, and named a Best Book of 2019 by Kirkus Reviews, BuzzFeed, NBC News, and Parade magazine. She is writing the screenplay for the film adaptation of the book, which will be produced by Plan B Entertainment and released by Searchlight Pictures.

She is author of two novels, Into the Go-Slow, named a Best Book of 2014 by the San Francisco Chronicle, and Shifting Through Neutral, shortlisted for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. Bridgett is also writer/director of the award-winning feature film Naked Acts, now part of the permanent collection at Indiana University’s distinguished Black Film Center/Archive.

Bridgett is a professor in the Department of Journalism and the Writing Professions at Baruch College and The Graduate Center, CUNY, where she teaches creative, narrative, and film writing.

Her essays have appeared most recently in The New York TimesThe Millions; Real Simple; the Los Angeles Times; and O, the Oprah Magazine. A graduate of Spelman College and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, she lives in Brooklyn with her family. Bridgett will be mentoring Shanda McManus.

Photo: Nina Subin


PEN America 2021 Emerging Voices Winner Jenise Miller By Beowulf Sheehan

Jenise Miller (Fellow)

CREATIVE NONFICTION
Compton, CA
Pronouns: she/her

Jenise Miller is a Black Panamanian writer, poet, and urban planner based in Compton. Her writing about art, local history, and growing up Black Latinx in Compton and Los Angeles is featured in her poetry chapbook, The Blvd, as well as in the Los Angeles Times, LA Review of Books, KCET Artbound, Boom California, Dryland Literary Journal, and The Acentos Review.

Photo: Beowulf Sheehan

Dana Johnson Headshot

Dana Johnson (Mentor)

Pronouns: she/her

Dana Johnson is the author of the short story collection In the Not Quite Dark. She is also the author of Break Any Woman Down, winner of the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, and the novel Elsewhere, California. Born and raised in and around Los Angeles, she is a professor of English at the University of Southern California. Dana will be mentoring Jenise Miller.


PEN America 2021 Emerging Voices Winner Ofelia Montelongo

Ofelia Montelongo (Fellow)

CREATIVE NONFICTION
Gaithersburg, MD
Pronouns: she/her

Ofelia Montelongo is a bilingual writer from Mexico. She received a BA in accounting and finance, an MBA, and a BA in English and creative writing. She has a MA in Spanish and Latin American literature from the University of Maryland. Her work has been published in Latino Book Review, The Acentos Review, Rio Grande Review, and elsewhere. She currently teaches at the University of Maryland and is a PEN/Faulkner writer in residence in Washington, D.C.

Photo: Beowulf Sheehan

Jaquira Díaz Headshot

Jaquira Díaz (Mentor)

Pronouns: she/her

Jaquira Díaz was born in Puerto Rico and raised in Miami. She is the author of Ordinary Girls, winner of a Whiting Award, a Florida Book Awards Gold Medal, and a Lambda Literary Awards finalist. Ordinary Girls was an Indies Introduce selection, a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers notable selection, an Indie Next pick, and a LibraryReads pick. Jaquira’s work has been published in The Guardian, TIME, T: The New York Times Style Magazine, and The Best American Essays, among other publications. She is the recipient of two Pushcart Prizes, an Elizabeth George Foundation grant, and fellowships from MacDowell, Kenyon Review, and the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing. Jaquira will be mentoring Ofelia Montelongo.


PEN America 2021 Emerging Voices Winner Tochukwu Okafor By Beowulf Sheehan

Tochukwu Okafor (Fellow)

FICTION
Worcester, MA
Pronouns: he/him

Tochukwu Okafor is a Nigerian writer whose work has appeared in the 2019 Best Small Fictions, the 2018 Best of the Net, and elsewhere. In 2021, he received fellowships from the Wellstone Center in the Redwoods, Jack Straw Writers Program, GrubStreet, and the Worcester Arts Council. He is a 2022 Good Hart Artist-in-Residence, a 2021 Frank Conley Memorial Scholar, a 2021 Albertina Tholakele Dube Scholar for Young Writers, an alumnus of the 2021 Tin House Workshop, and a 2018 Rhodes Scholar finalist. He lives in Worcester, MA, and is at work on a novel and a story collection.

Photo: Beowulf Sheehan

Naomi Jackson Headshot, Photo Credit: Lola Flash

Naomi Jackson (Mentor)

Pronouns: she/her

Naomi Jackson is author of The Star Side of Bird Hill, published by Penguin Books in June 2015. The Star Side of Bird Hill was nominated for an NAACP Image Award and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award and longlisted for the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Prize, The Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, and the International Dublin Literary Award. The Star Side of Bird Hill was named an Honor Book for fiction by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. It was also selected for the American Booksellers Association’s Indies Introduce and Indies Next List programs. The book has been reviewed by The New York Times, The New Yorker, Kirkus Reviews, NPR, and Entertainment Weekly, which called The Star Side of Bird Hilla gem of a book. Publishers Weekly named Naomi a Writer to Watch. Naomi will be mentoring Tochukwu Okafor.

Photo: Lola Flash


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Adrienne Oliver (Fellow)

POETRY
Charlottesville, VA
Pronouns: she/her

Adrienne Oliver is a performer + public educator + single mother, and a Black woman in each of those realities; her work is to become a worthy ancestor. Adrienne's multi-genre experimental works encircle the performance of woman and motherhood, weaving the magical and mundane. Her work has appeared in the Virginia Film Festival, Spark + Echo Arts, Puerto del Sol Black Voices, Live Arts Theater, and the McGuffey Art Center, where she is currently an artist-in-residence. Adrienne curates and hosts the Coco Sprinkler Citrus Poem reading series and Jericho Brown calls her “the only person who reads [his] poems better than [him].” She lives in Charlottesville, VA with her daughter, Pearl.

Photo: Adrienne Oliver

Chet’la Sebree Headshot

Chet’la Sebree (Mentor)

Pronouns: she/her

Chet’la Sebree is the director of the Stadler Center for Poetry & Literary Arts and an assistant professor at Bucknell University. She is the author of Field Study, winner of the 2020 James Laughlin Award, and Mistress, which was nominated for an NAACP Image Award. Her work recently appeared in Dr. Ibram X. Kendi and Dr. Keisha N. Blain’s Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019. Chet’la will be mentoring Adrienne Oliver.

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