Emerging Voices Fellowship
The Emerging Voices Fellowship, run out of our Los Angeles office, is a literary mentorship that aims to provide new writers who are isolated from the literary establishment with the tools, skills, and knowledge they need to launch a professional writing career.
The 2020 application period is now closed. If you are being asked to interview, you will find out at the end of October 2019. Good luck to everyone who applied!
LITERARY MENTORSHIP BENEFITS
By the end of the Emerging Voices Fellowship, a writer will leave with:
- Seven months of guidance from a professional mentor and written notes on their current writing project.
- An author photo and bio.
- A logline—the short summation of the project in progress.
- A clear action plan for finishing this project.
- Writing life, and craft tips, from notable visiting authors.
- An editing guide from a professional copy editor.
- Insider knowledge of publishing from agents, publishers, and editors.
- An individualized submission guide for literary journals, agents, residencies, and fellowships.
- Improved reading technique from a professional voice coach.
- Public reading experience for a variety of audiences.
- An understanding of how to be an effective workshop participant.
- Lifetime membership in PEN America.
- An introduction to the Los Angeles literary community.
The seven-month fellowship includes:
PROFESSIONAL MENTORSHIP: Emerging Voices Mentors are carefully chosen from PEN America’s membership and from professional writers based in Los Angeles. The Mentor-Fellow relationship is expected to challenge the fellow’s work and compel significant creative progress. Over the course of the fellowship, Emerging Voices Fellows and Mentors should meet three times in person, and be in contact at least once a month. In these three meetings, Mentors will offer written feedback on the Emerging Voices Fellows’ work in progress. Authors who have been mentors in the past include Amelia Gray, Harryette Mullen, Chris Abani, Ramona Ausubel, Meghan Daum, Sherman Alexie, Jade Chang, and J. Ryan Stradal.
CLASSES AT THE UCLA EXTENSION WRITERS’ PROGRAM: Participants will attend two free courses (a 12-week writing course and a one-day workshop) at UCLA Extension, donated by the Writers’ Program. Program Manager will assist the Emerging Voices Fellows with course selection.
AUTHOR EVENINGS: Fellows will meet with visiting authors, editors, publishers and agents in a private setting to ask questions about craft. Fellows must read each visiting author’s book before the evening. A schedule of Author Evenings is distributed at the first Emerging Voices orientation meeting.
MASTER CLASSES: After completing the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program courses, Emerging Voices Fellows will enroll in a Master Class. The Master Class is a genre-specific workshop with a professional writer that affords fellows the opportunity to exchange feedback on their works in progress. The 2018 Master Class Instructors are Alex Espinoza (fiction and nonfiction), and F. Douglas Brown (poetry).
F. Douglas Brown of Los Angeles is the author of Zero to Three (University of Georgia Press 2014), and recipient of the 2013 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. He holds a MA in Literature and Creative Writing from San Francisco State University, teaches English at Loyola High School, and is both a Cave Canem and Kundiman fellow. Mr. Brown’s poems have appeared most recently in The Virginia Quarterly(VQR), The Bat City Review, and San Pedro River Review, and he was featured in Poets and Writers Magazine as one of their Debut Poets of 2014.
Alex Espinoza was born in Tijuana, Mexico and earned an MFA from UC-Irvine’s Program in Writing. His first novel, Still Water Saints was published by Random House in 2007 and was released simultaneously in Spanish under the title Los Santos de Agua Mansa, California. Random House also published his second novel The Five Acts of Diego León in 2013. Alex has written for the New York Times Sunday Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, Huizache, The Southern California Review, the American Book Review, the Virginia Quarterly Review, American Short Fiction, and NPR’s All Things Considered.
VOLUNTEER PROJECT: All Emerging Voices Fellows are expected to complete a 25-hour volunteer project that is relevant to the literary community. The 2017 Fellows collaborated on projects with 826LA, DSTLA Arts, and POPS the Club.
VOICE INSTRUCTION CLASS: The Fellowship will provide a one-day workshop with Dave Thomas, a professional voice actor. The Emerging Voices Fellows will read their work in a recording studio and receive instruction on reading their work publicly.
PUBLIC READINGS: Fellows will participate in three public readings, The Welcome Party, Tongue & Groove Salon, and the Final Reading. Fellows have read in various venues and events including the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, Silver Lake Jubilee, Skylight Bookstore, The Standard, Downtown LA, and Hotel Café. The fellowship culminates in a Final Reading showcasing the progress each fellow has made in his or her work.
STIPEND: The fellowship includes a $1,000 stipend, given in $500 increments.
The Emerging Voices Fellowship runs from January to July. Participants need not be published, but the fellowship is directed toward poets and writers of fiction and creative nonfiction with clear ideas of what they hope to accomplish through their writing.
People ineligible for the Emerging Voices Fellowship:
- Those who have a B.A., M.A., M.F.A., Ph.D. or minors in Creative Writing.
- Students currently enrolled in undergraduate or graduate degree programs.
- Those who are Professional PEN America Members.
- Writers who have published one or more books through major publishing houses, university presses, or established presses.
- Current professional magazine/newspaper feature writers or editors.
- Writers who are widely published in top tier literary journals and/or magazines.
- Anyone under the age of 21.
Emerging Voices is a rigorous fellowship based in Los Angeles with weekly meetings and an intense reading and writing schedule. With this in mind, participants must be willing and able to make an enthusiastic commitment to the fellowship and to their involvement as members of a group. If you are not a resident of Los Angeles and you are awarded the fellowship you will need to relocate for the seven-month period. Housing is not provided.
The Emerging Voices Fellowship originated as a mentorship project. The project grew out of PEN America Los Angeles’s forum “Writing the Immigrant Experience,” held at the Los Angeles Central Library in March 1994, which explored the issues and challenges faced by first and second generation immigrant writers. It was evident from the forum that many of the culturally diverse communities of writers in Southern California were often isolated from the literary establishment. In the fall of 1996, PEN America Los Angeles initiated Emerging Voices as a literary mentorship program designed to launch potential professional writers from minority, immigrant and other underrepresented communities. The program has now evolved into an seven-month writing fellowship for writers who lack access to a traditional writing education and seek financial and creative support.
Here’s a note from one of the fellowship’s supporter, Jamie Wolf, supporter of the Emerging Voices Fellowship program:
“The Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Foundation was established in 1948 by my parents, a young businessman and his fashion-editor wife, who clearly had a great deal of confidence in their eventual financial success as well as a genuine desire to contribute to the world outside themselves. As my father formulated it in the beginning, ‘Individuals fortunate enough to receive unusual benefits from a society have the distinct obligation to return meaningful, tangible support to that society—in the form of creative energy as well as funding.’ What this has meant over the years is a pattern of rewarding excellence and accomplishment by giving awards in the fields of medicine, art and literature. In the last several decades, as the younger generation has begun to have more of a say, the goal has modulated into an emphasis on more directly encouraging excellence and accomplishment—by funding programs as well as awards, thus concentrating on setting up structures for achievement, and utilizing the multiplier effect.”
PEN America’s Emerging Voices Fellowship is generously supported by the California Arts Council, New Balloon and Catapult, Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture, OVATION TV, Pasadena Literary Alliance, UCLA Extension Writers’ Program, The Rosenthal Family Foundation, Jamie Wolf, and in part by a grant from the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.
The 2020 application period will be open from April 1 to August 1, 2019.
Do I need to live in the Los Angeles area to apply to the Emerging Voices Fellowship?
You must be a resident of the United States to apply. All fellows must live in Los Angeles or close enough to commute to Los Angeles for the duration of the program. No funds are available for relocation.
Are there any age restrictions?
The Emerging Voices Fellowship is open to all writers over the age of 21.
Can I submit work that has been previously published?
Yes, if you feel it is the work that best represents you as a writer.
Can you help me decide what work to submit as my writing sample?
No, although we do strongly encourage you to submit writing that corresponds to your genre and your project proposal. Please make full use of the 20 page submission limit for prose, but do not exceed 20 pages. This allows the selection committee to gain a better understanding of your project and how you and your work could benefit from the fellowship.
How should the manuscript be formatted?
Fiction and nonfiction manuscripts should be double-spaced, 12-point font, 1-inch margins all around. You may format poetry manuscripts however you feel best represents the poetry you are submitting, as long as you do not exceed the page limit and the typed font is legible. All pages must be numbered.
What does the selection committee look for in a manuscript?
A strong writing sample. The best advice we can give is to seek the advice of other writers and instructors when preparing your manuscript.
When are applicants notified of the committee’s decision?
All applicants will be notified in late November.
Can you give me feedback on my manuscript or tell me why I wasn’t selected for the fellowship?
We cannot provide any comments on manuscripts or on applications submitted.
On the short answer section of the Emerging Voices application, it states you may use up to 500 words for each answer. Does this mean 500 words for each answer or 500 words for all ten questions combined?
It states each response can be up to 500 words maximum. That means each response for each individual question may be up to 500 words, not 500 words for all ten responses.
I write screenplays/graphic novels/children’s books. Am I eligible?
The accepted genres for the Emerging Voices Fellowship are fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. All classes, mentors, and programming for the fellowship are based on one of these three genres. Many alumni have gone on to pursue careers in graphic novels, performance art, and screenwriting, but concentrated on either prose or poetry for the duration of the fellowship.
If offered a place in the fellowship, may I defer acceptance for another year?
You may not defer acceptance.
If not awarded the fellowship, may I reapply?
If you are not awarded a fellowship, we encourage you to reapply if interested.
For more info, please contact [email protected].
Emerging Voices Antioch MFA Scholarships
Effective immediately, Antioch University Los Angeles (AULA) and Antioch University Santa Barbara (AUSB) are offering Advanced Standing in the MFA in Creative Writing Program (AULA) and the MFA in Writing & Contemporary Media (AUSB), plus additional scholarship opportunities, to all alumni of the PEN America Emerging Voices (EV) Fellowship who are accepted into either program.
1. Advanced Standing: All EV alumni will receive 12 units of MFA credit for their work with PEN America as Emerging Voices Fellows. As a result, they will only have to complete three semesters (versus the standard four) in order to receive their MFA in their chosen genre: fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, or writing for young people at the Los Angeles campus; or film, television, playwriting, or emerging media at the Santa Barbara campus. All MFA students are also eligible to be mentored in a second genre during at least one “genre jump” semester on either campus. (Consult the AULA or AUSB catalogues for further details.)
2. Creative Writing Scholarship Opportunities: EV alumni are eligible to compete for the following scholarships:
- At the Los Angeles campus: Creative Writing Fellowships (25 percent off one’s tuition each semester); Antioch Opportunity Grants ($1,000); and Eloise Klein Healy Scholarships ($1,000).
- At the Santa Barbara campus: all scholarships available to AUSB MFA students, including the Riskin-Rintels Writing Scholarship ($5,000) and the Don and Vivienne Bellisario Scholarship ($5,000).
These opportunities will be available on an ongoing basis, and EV alumni will need to apply to the MFA Program through the AULA or AUSB website like all other MFA applicants.
By the end of July, 2019, there will be 151 Emerging Voices Fellowship alumni. It is Antioch’s hope that providing alumni with the above opportunities in a low-residency program might allow them to further their writing lives beyond the Fellowship.
Please note that you are an Emerging Voices Fellow in your cover letter and inform Amanda Fletcher at [email protected] of your application.
“As a prior PEN America EV Mentor and multiple Author Evening host, I have had the opportunity to engage with many Fellows, and am always impressed by their talent, passion, and commitment to the written word. I have also been impressed by the rigor of the Fellowship itself. With our social justice and community engagement mission, Antioch’s low-residency MFA Program seems like a great next step for EV alumni looking to continue learning and writing beyond Emerging Voices.”
—Victoria Chang, MA, MBA, Core Faculty, Antioch MFA Program
Bennington Writing Seminars Emerging Voices Scholarship
Thanks to the generosity of the Class of June 2018, Bennington Writing Seminars is able to offer a scholarship of $10,000 to an alumnus of PEN America’s Emerging Voices Fellowship program for the second time.
Effective during the September 2018 admissions period for the January 2019 residency, Bennington will grant a $10,000 scholarship in $2,500 increments across four terms to an Emerging Voices Fellow.
If a candidate is not selected for January admission, the scholarship will be available for an Emerging Voices Fellow for the March 1, 2019, admissions period with a June 2019 start date.
Thanks to the fundraising efforts of the January 2017 graduating class, Bennington Writing Seminars was able to accept three talented Emerging Voices Fellows last year: Shari Poindexter, Davin Malasarn, and Monica Carter (pictured above).
Deadline for applications is September 1.
Please note that you are an Emerging Voices Fellow in your cover letter and inform Amanda Fletcher at [email protected] of your application.
SLICE Literary Writers’ Conference
As of 2017, a partnership between SLICE Literary Writers’ Conference and PEN America waives the conference fee and admission requirements for up to five Emerging Voices Fellows. 2017 EV Fellow Kirin Khan attended the 2018 conference under the terms of this agreement. (Fellows must provide for their own travel arrangements.) Kirin says, “The conference was phenomenal. I was able to really chat with panelists, meet editors and agents, and talk to speakers in a relaxed setting. And the tote bag is the best! Thanks, SLICE.”
UCLA Extension Writers’ Program
In addition to the classes all current Emerging Voices are enrolled in during their tenure as Fellows, UCLA Extension Writers’ Program has agreed to waive the candidacy fee for Specializations and Certificate Programs for EV Fellows in the two years following their tenure.
The Long Beach Festival of Women Authors
In keeping with their mission of encouraging new writers of talent and promise, the Literary Women of Long Beach invites a minimum of two PEN America Emerging Voices to attend the Long Beach Festival of Women Authors every year. Selected Fellows are included in the program and seated with presenting authors who offer invaluable support and advice. The 2019 festival lineup includes Attica Locke, Tayari Jones, and Leni Zumas, among other notables.
2018 Emerging Voices Welcome Party
Thanks to everyone who came out to celebrate the 2018 Emerging Voices last Friday at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions.
Angela, Ron, Natalie, Francisco, and Jubi read excerpts of their work to a packed house full of friends, family, mentors, EV alumni, instructors, and writers. It was literary Los Angeles at its finest.
Take a look at the photos here and make sure to mark your calendars for their next reading at the Hotel Café on Saturday, April 28 for Tongue and Groove with musical guest Elephants With Guns.
PEN America Los Angeles is generously supported by the Amazon Literary Partnership, California Arts Council, Herb Alpert Foundation, Rosenthal Family Foundation, UCLA Extension Writers’ Program, The City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, Los Angeles County Arts Commission, National Endowment for the Arts, New Balloon & Catapult, and Ovation Foundation.
The Final Reading
The Final Reading featured our 2018 Emerging Voices Fellows Jubi Arriola-Headley, Ron L. Dowell, Natalie Mislang Mann, Angela M. Sanchez, and Francisco Uribe introduced by mentors Douglas Manuel, Tananarive Due, Angela Morales, Lilliam Rivera, and Michael Jaime-Becerra.
Tongue & Groove Presents the 2018 Emerging Voices Fellows
PEN America and Tongue & Groove presented a reading by the 2018 Emerging Voices Fellows at Hotel Café. It was a night of reading and drinking with musical guest Elephants With Guns. Featuring Jubi Arriola-Headley, Ron L. Dowell, Natalie Mislang Mann, Angela M. Sanchez, and Francisco Uribe.
The PEN America Emerging Voices Podcast was created to increase the reach of the fellowship and provide the tools necessary to launch a professional writing career to writers in need beyond the five fellows awarded each year. Hosted by Fellowship Manager Amanda Fletcher, the podcast will feature fellows, mentors, master class instructors, Author Evening hosts, and more, all talking craft tips, writing advice, agents, query letters, carne asada, trauma, transcendence, and the importance of literary community.
Writers. Readers. Talkers. See how they’re just like you.
Episodes will be available for FREE here on PEN America.
Episode 001 — Alex Espinoza
Fellowship Manager Amanda Fletcher answers the question, “Why a podcast?” and Prose Master Class Instructor Alex Espinoza talks workshop etiquette, cruising, and Lucha Libre.
Episode 002 — F. Douglas Brown
Poetry Master Class Instructor F. Douglas Brown reads us a poem, tells us what’s in a name, and asks us to consider skinheads, while Fellowship Manager Amanda Fletcher coughs a lot.
Episode 003 — Samantha Dunn
Listen to author (and Author Evening host), mentor, teacher, and editor Samantha Dunn rant about being a memoirist, a ghost, and an “enemy of the people” while Fellowship Manager Amanda Fletcher says “like” a lot.
Episode 004 — Nancy Lynée Woo
Founder of the Long Beach Literary Arts Center and 2015 Emerging Voices Fellow
Nancy Lynée Woo talks about DIY lit scenes, the importance of creative spaces, and the power of showing up, while Fellowship Manager Amanda Fletcher drools over the size of Nancy’s apartment.
Episode 005 — Dave Thomas
Listen in as acclaimed voice-over actor, EV instructor, writer, and performer Dave Thomas talks Shakespeare, Dark Sith Lords, and the MacKenzie brothers, while Amanda Fletcher verbally nods. (And if you hang on until the end you’ll learn how to use the cork from a wine bottle to improve your diction.)
Episode 006 — Douglas Manuel
Award-winning author of TESTIFY, Dornsife Fellow, and 2018 EV mentor Douglas Manuel joins Fellowship Manager Amanda Fletcher in idyllic Long Beach to talk poetry, politics, and the cultural capital a PhD affords someone who can’t stop dancing to the collective song.
Episode 007 — Irene Suico Soriano
Irene Suico Soriano might not be sure if she was a Fellow in 2000 or 2001 but she is sure of two things. One is that the road to publication is just as long as it needs to be and more importantly, that picking up hitchhikers in your community is a vital part of the journey. Listen to her tell Fellowship Manager Amanda Fletcher all about it. With guest appearances by Papu and Max.
Episode 008 — Victor Vazquez
2014 EV Fellow and Casting Director for the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., Victor Vazquez discusses diversity, talks taking the mic, our responsibility to awe, The Lion King, and BDSM with Fellowship Manager Amanda Fletcher.
Episode 009 — Julia Callahan
As part of Rare Bird Books, Julia Callahan has co-hosted a small press Author Evening with Chris Heiser from Unnamed Press for years. Now, from her seat on the floor of her apartment in the Los Feliz neighborhood of LA, she waxes philosophical on roller derby as a stress reliever, how to be an active member of your literary community, and living inside the story of Los Angeles.
2019 Emerging Voices Welcome Party
Thank you to everyone who came out to Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibits to hear the 2019 Emerging Voices Fellows read together for the first time. If you weren’t able to make it, you can watch the reading here and take a look at the photos here.
The Final Reading
Thank you to everyone involved for another inspiring fellowship year. The 2019 Fellows read together for the last time at the Hammer Museum on July 23.