2022 Emerging Voices Fellows Hero Image

2022 Emerging Voices Fellows and Mentors

PEN America welcomes the 2022 Emerging Voices Fellows. Natáhne Arrowsmith, S. Erin Batiste, Sarah Chaves, Julian Iralu, Iris Kim, Jane S. Kim, Monica Mills, Doreen Oliver, Connie Pertuz-Meza, Edythe Rodriguez, Shakeema Smalls, and Christina Tudor will each receive $1,500, a professional headshot, one-year complimentary PEN membership, and partake in a five-month immersive mentorship program that includes virtually accessible creative writing workshops, visits from publishing professionals, and workshops that emphasize the business of books. This year’s mentors include Kristen Arnett, Reyna Grande, Leslie Jamison, Crystal Hana Kim, Roya Marsh, Porsha Olayiwola, José Olivarez, Tochi Onyebuchi, Margaret Wilkerson Sexton, Evie Shockley, Phuc Tran, and David Heska Wanbli Weiden.

The 12 fellows were selected from the largest applicant pool in the program’s 26-year history. Among the judges who made up the final selection committee were writer and fiction editor at The Rumpus, Kelsey Norris; literary agent at Aevitas Creative Management, Sarah Bowlin; poet, writer, and author of the novel-in-verse Dreaming of You, Melissa Lozada-Oliva; and producer, professor, and author of Down Along with That Devil’s Bones: A Reckoning with Monuments, Memory, and the Legacy of White Supremacy, Connor Towne O’Neill.

The following talented writers were 2022 finalists: Ashia Ajani, Samar Al Summary, Yalda Asmatey, Jessica Diaz-Hurtado, Karina Aguilar Guerrero, Fabrice Guerrier, Audrey Gutierrez, Jason Harris, Elliot Kukla, Kaylin Moss, Kiki Nicole, Achiro P. Olwoch, Aureleo Sans, and Masha Shukovich.

Meet the 2022 Emerging Voices fellows and mentors below.

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Natáhne Arrowsmith (Fellow)

Rohnert Park, CA
Pronouns: she/her

Natáhne Arrowsmith is a proud Cherokee Nation citizen who fits words into spaces, sometimes she sings them. This former birth/postpartum/sex doula, ICWA foster parent, and formally trained singer/self-taught ukulele hack is a purveyor of “The Happy-Sad”; adept at making her audience smile whilst breaking their hearts. She creates in myriad forms: music, poetry, essay, and fiction while living in an unceded Miwok territory with her husband, daughter, dog, and an ever-expanding colony of feral cats. Samples of her musical musings can be found on most streaming platforms and at www.DarkMondaysMusic.com.

Photo: RE Adamson III 

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David Heska Wanbli Weiden (Mentor)

Pronouns: he/him

David Heska Wanbli Weiden, an enrolled citizen of the Sicangu Lakota Nation, is the author of Winter Counts, nominated for an Edgar Award, and winner of the Anthony, Thriller, Lefty, Barry, Macavity, Spur, High Plains, Electa Quinney, and Tillie Olsen Awards. The novel was a New York Times Editors’ Choice, an Indie Next pick, main selection of the Book of the Month Club, and named a Best Book of 2020 by NPR, Amazon, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, The Guardian, and other magazines. He has short stories appearing or forthcoming in the anthologies Best American Mystery and Suspense Stories 2022, Denver Noir, Midnight Hour, This Time for Sure, Never Whistle at Night, and The Perfect Crime. Weiden is the recipient of a MacDowell Fellowship, a Ragdale Foundation residency, Ucross Fellowship, Sewanee Fellowship, the PEN America Writing for Justice Fellowship, and was a Tin House Scholar. He’s a professor of Native American Studies at Metropolitan State University of Denver and lives in Colorado with his family. David will be mentoring Natáhne Arrowsmith.

Photo: Aslan Chalom

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S. Erin Batiste (Fellow)

Brooklyn, NY
Pronouns: she/her

S. Erin Batiste is an interdisciplinary poet and author of the chapbook, Glory to All Fleeting Things. She is a 2022 Tin House Debut 40 Writer in Residence and SWWIM Writer in Residence. Additionally, she has received fellowships and generous support from PERIPLUS, Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, Rona Jaffe Foundation, Poets & Writers +Reese’s Book Club’s The Readership, Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, Assets for Artists +MASS MoCA, Crosstown Arts, Cave Canem, and Callaloo. Batiste is a reader for The Rumpus and her own Pushcart, Best New Poets, and Best of the Net nominated work has exhibited in New York, is anthologized and appears internationally in Interim, Magma, Michigan Quarterly Review, and wildness among other decorated journals.

Photo: Roque Nonini

Evie Shockley

Evie Shockley (Mentor)

Pronouns: she/her

Evie Shockley thinks, creates, and writes with her eye on a Black feminist horizon. Her books of poetry include suddenly we (forthcoming 2023), semiautomatic, and the new black.  Her work has been named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, has twice garnered the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and has appeared internationally.  Her honors include the Lannan Literary Award for Poetry and the Stephen Henderson Award, and her joys include being a member of the collective Poets at the End of the World. Shockley is the Zora Neale Hurston Professor of English at Rutgers University. Evie will be mentoring S. Erin Batiste.

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Sarah Chaves (Fellow)

Peabody, MA
Pronouns: she/her

Sarah Chaves is a Portuguese-American writer, editor, and high-school educator based in Boston, MA. She has received nonfiction writing scholarships from Fulbright, Disquiet, and Bread Loaf. Her most recent work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Teen Vogue, among others. Feel free to check out her website at sarahchaves.com or find her on Instagram @sarita_chaves.

Photo: Kasey Canzano

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Phuc Tran (Mentor)

Pronouns: he/him

Phuc Tran has been a high school Latin teacher for more than twenty years while also simultaneously establishing himself as a highly sought-after tattooer in the Northeast. Phuc graduated from Bard College in 1995 with a BA in Classics and received the Callanan Classics Prize. He taught Latin, Greek, and Sanskrit in New York at the Collegiate School and was an instructor at Brooklyn College’s Summer Latin Institute. Most recently, he taught Latin, Greek, and German at the Waynflete School in Portland, Maine.

His 2012 TEDx talk “Grammar, Identity, and the Dark Side of the Subjunctive” was featured on NPR’s Ted Radio Hour.

His acclaimed memoir, SIGH, GONE: A Misfit's Memoir of Great Books, Punk Rock, and The Fight To Fit In, received the 2020 New England Book Award for Nonfiction and the 2021 Maine Literary Award for Memoir. SIGH, GONE was named a best book of 2020 by Amazon, Audible, Kirkus Reviews, and many other publications. Phuc Tran will be mentoring Sarah Chaves.

Photo: Jeff Roberts

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Julian Iralu (Fellow)

Boston, MA
Pronouns: she/her

Julian Iralu (she, her, hers) is Naga-American from the Angami Meyase clan in Nagaland India. She grew up in Gallup, New Mexico. Her work has generously been supported by The Naga American Foundation, GrubStreet and Boston Writers of Color. Her writing centers around family violence, the horror of the everyday, and the Naga diaspora.

Photo: Toby Oft

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Tochi Onyebuchi (Mentor)

Pronouns: he/him

Tochi Onyebuchi is the author of Goliath. His previous fiction includes Riot Baby, a finalist for the Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and NAACP Image Awards and winner of the New England Book Award for Fiction, the Ignyte Award for Best Novella, and the World Fantasy Award; the Beasts Made of Night series; and the War Girls series. His short fiction has appeared in The Best American Science-Fiction and elsewhere. His non-fiction includes the book (S)kinfolk and has appeared in The New York Times, NPR, and the Harvard Journal of African American Public Policy, among other places. Tochi will be mentoring Julian Iralu.

Photo: Christina Orlando

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Iris Kim (Fellow)

San Jose, CA
Pronouns: she/her

Iris (Yi Youn) Kim is a recent USC grad and a development assistant on the HBO Max International Originals team. She enjoys writing about Asian American identity, politics, and culture. Her work has appeared in NYT Tiny Love Stories, Slate, TIME, Business Insider, and Zora. Find her online at @iris_kim7 and www.iris-kim.com.

Photo: Randy Shropshire

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Leslie Jamison (Mentor)

Pronouns: she/her

Leslie Jamison was born in Washington DC and grew up in Los Angeles. Since then, she has lived in Iowa, Nicaragua, New Haven, and (currently) Brooklyn. She worked as a baker, an office temp, an innkeeper, a tutor, and a medical actor. These days she teaches at the Columbia University MFA program, where she directs the nonfiction concentration. Her recent book, a collection of essays called Make It Scream, Make It Burn, came out in September 2019. She’s also written a novel, The Gin Closet, a collection of essays, The Empathy Exams, and a critical memoir, The Recovering. Her work has appeared in places including The New York Times Magazine, Harper's, Oxford American, A Public Space, Virginia Quarterly Review, and The Believer. Leslie will be mentoring Iris Kim.

Photo: Beowulf Sheehan

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Jane S. Kim (Fellow)

Los Angeles, CA
Pronouns: she/her

Jane S. Kim is a second-generation Korean American writer living in Los Angeles. She previously resided in New York, Seoul and Chicago before returning to her childhood home in Los Angeles's Koreatown. Her writing explores themes of displacement and makeshift homelands, and she is currently at work on a collection of short stories.

Photo: Debbie J. Cho

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Crystal Hana Kim (Mentor)

Pronouns: she/her

Crystal Hana Kim is the author of If You Leave Me, which was a Booklist Editor’s Choice title and named a best book of 2018 by over a dozen publications. A 2022 recipient of the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 Award and a 2017 PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize winner, she teaches at Columbia University and in the Randolph College MFA program. Crystal will be mentoring Jane S. Kim.

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Monica Mills (Fellow)

Maplewood, NJ
Pronouns: she/her

Monica Mills is a Jamaican-American poet, essayist, and storyteller. She is from Maplewood, New Jersey and has a BA in political science and English from Rutgers University. Monica works as a consultant and analyst in the emergency housing sector and reads poetry for West Trade Review. Monica’s recent writing appears or is forthcoming in publications such as Claw & Blossom, Typehouse Magazine, Eunoia Review, and Cortland Review among others.

Photo: Martina Campolo

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Roya Marsh (Mentor)

Pronouns: she/her

Bronx, New York native, Roya Marsh is a nationally recognized poet, performer, educator and activist. She is the author of dayliGht (MCDxFSG, 2020) and works feverishly toward LGBTQ+ liberation and dismantling white supremacy. Roya is the co-founder of the Bronx Poet Laureate initiative, a PEN America Emerging Voices Mentor, 2021 faculty with Lambda Literary's Writer’s Retreat for Emerging LGBTQ+ Voices and the awardee of the 2021 Lotus Foundation Prize for poetry.

Roya’s work has been featured in numerous places including, The Academy of American Poets, Poetry Magazine, the Village Voice, Nylon Magazine, Huffington Post, The Root, Button Poetry, Carnegie Hall, The Apollo Theater, Lexus Verses and Flow, NBC, BET and The BreakBeat Poets Vol 2: Black Girl Magic (Haymarket 2018).

Find out more & help to support Black futures at BLKJOY.COM. Roya will be mentoring Monica Mills.

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Doreen Oliver (Fellow)

Essex County, NJ
Pronouns: she/her

Doreen Oliver is a writer, performer, and speaker whose work illuminates the beauty, heartbreak, and unpredictability of life, often through the lens of parenting. Her critically-acclaimed one-woman show about raising a child with autism, EVERYTHING IS FINE UNTIL IT’S NOT, won the Audience Award at the United Solo Festival and its run broke a record for the fastest sell-out in the NY International Fringe Festival's 20-year history. Awarded fellowships from Yaddo, Hedgebrook, VCCA, and the Sustainable Arts Foundation at Gallery Aferro, Doreen’s essays on race and disability have appeared in The New York Times, The Root, Audible, Kenyon Review, and elsewhere. A former independent film producer, Doreen is a graduate of Yale, Stanford Business School, and a Head Start preschool in Newark, NJ.

Photo: Roque Nonini

Margaret Wilkerson Sexton

Margaret Wilkerson Sexton (Mentor)

Pronouns: she/her

Margaret Wilkerson Sexton studied creative writing at Dartmouth College and law at UC Berkeley. Her most recent novel, The Revisioners, won a 2020 Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize and an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work and was a national bestseller as well as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Her debut novel, A Kind of Freedom, was long-listed for the National Book Award. Her third novel, On the Rooftop, will be published by Ecco in September 2022. She lives in Oakland with her family. Margaret will be mentoring Doreen Oliver.

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Connie Pertuz-Meza (Fellow)

Brooklyn, NY
Pronouns: she/her/ella

Connie Pertuz Meza, a Colombian American writer, inspired to pen pieces about her life, family, and ancestors. Connie’s writing appeared in The Rumpus, Kweli Literary Journal, Lunch Ticket, Chalkbeat, The Nasonia, Raising Mothers, Dreamers Creative Writing, Voices In The Middle, The Acentos Review, MUTHA, and several anthologies. Connie is a three-time VONA alum and board member, two-time Tin House participant, 2021 Kweli Emerging Writer Fellow, 2021 Key West Seminar Work In Progress Finalist, and 2021 Aspen Words Ricardo Salinas Latinx recipient.

Photo: Thomas Newberger

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Reyna Grande (Mentor)

Pronouns: she/her

Originally from Guerrero, Mexico, Reyna Grande is the author of the bestselling memoir, The Distance Between Us, published for adult and young readers. It was a Book Critics Circle Award finalist and the recipient of an International Literacy Association Children’s Book Award. Her other books are Across a Hundred Mountains, Dancing with Butterflies, and A Dream Called Home. Her two newest titles are A Ballad of Love and Glory (March 2022), a historical novel set during the Mexican-American War and inspired by real events, and Somewhere We Are Human: Authentic Voices on Migration, Survival and New Beginnings (June 2022), an anthology by and about undocumented Americans. Reyna lives in Woodland, California with her husband and two children. Reyna will be mentoring Connie Pertuz-Meza.

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Edythe Rodriguez (Fellow)

Upper Darby, PA
Pronouns: she/her

Edythe Rodriguez is a Philly-based poet who studied Africology and creative writing at Temple University. She loves neo-soul, battle rap, and long walks through old poetry journals. She has received fellowships from The Watering Hole, Brooklyn Poets, and Palm Beach Poetry Festival. She is the winner of the 2021 Margaret Reid Poetry Prize from Winning Writers and the 2022 Sandy Crimmins Poetry Prize from Philadelphia Stories. Her work is a call for aggressive healing and is published in Obsidian, Sonku Literary Magazine, Call and Response Journal and Bayou Magazine.

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José Olivarez (Mentor)

Pronouns: he/him

José Olivarez is the son of Mexican immigrants. His debut book of poems, Citizen Illegal, was a finalist for the PEN/ Jean Stein Award and a winner of the 2018 Chicago Review of Books Poetry Prize. It was named a top book of 2018 by The Adroit Journal, NPR, and the New York Public Library. Along with Felicia Chavez and Willie Perdomo, he co-edited the poetry anthology, The BreakBeat Poets Vol. 4: LatiNEXT. José Olivarez will be mentoring Edythe Rodriguez.

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Shakeema Smalls (Fellow)

Georgetown, SC
Pronouns: she/her

Shakeema Smalls is from Georgetown, South Carolina.  Her work has been published in a variety of outlets including Blackberry: A Magazine, Tidal Basin Review, The Fem, The Pittsburgh Poetry Review, Radius Lit, Free Black Space, Vinyl Poetry and Prose, and Rigorous, among others.

Photo: Shanice Dozier

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Porsha Olayiwola (Mentor)

Pronouns: she/her

Porsha Olayiwola is a native of Chicago who writes, lives and loves in Boston. Olayiwola is a writer, performer, educator and curator who uses afro-futurism and surrealism to examine historical and current issues in the Black, woman, and queer diasporas. She is an Individual World Poetry Slam Champion and the founder of the Roxbury Poetry Festival. Olayiwola is Brown University's 2019 Heimark Artist -In -Residence as well as the 2021 Artist-in-Residence at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. She is a 2020 poet laureate fellow with the Academy of American poets.  Olayiwola earned her MFA in poetry from Emerson College and is the author of i shimmer sometimes, too. Olayiwola is the current poet laureate for the city of Boston. Her work can be found in or forthcoming from with TriQuarterly Magazine, Black Warrior Review, The Boston Globe, Essence Magazine, Redivider, The Academy of American Poets, Netflix, Wildness Press, The Museum of Fine Arts and elsewhere. Porsha will be mentoring Shakeema Smalls.

Photo: Carlie Febo

Christina Tudor

Christina Tudor (Fellow)

Washington, DC
Pronouns: she/her

Christina Tudor is a writer and digital communications professional living in Washington, D.C. Her fiction has been featured in HAD, Flash Frog, Litro Magazine, and more. She has received nominations for the Pushcart Prize and the Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers. She can be reached on Twitter @christinaltudor.

Photo: Christian Quintana

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Kristen Arnett (Mentor)

Pronouns: she/her

Kristen Arnett is the author of With Teeth: A Novel (Riverhead Books, 2021) which was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award in fiction and the New York Times bestselling debut novel Mostly Dead Things (Tin House, 2019) which was also a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award in fiction and was shortlisted for the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award. She is a queer fiction and essay writer. She was awarded a Shearing Fellowship at Black Mountain Institute and was longlisted for the Joyce Carol Oates Prize recognizing mid-career writers of fiction. Her work has appeared at The New York Times, TIME, The Cut, Oprah Magazine, Guernica, Buzzfeed, McSweeneys, PBS Newshour, The Guardian, Salon, and elsewhere. Her next book (an untitled collection of short stories) will be published by Riverhead Books (Penguin Random House). She has a Masters in Library and Information Science from Florida State University and currently lives in Miami, Florida. You can find her on Twitter here: @Kristen_Arnett. Kristen will be mentoring Christina Tudor.