(NEW YORK) — PEN America today announced 12 writers who have been selected as 2022 Emerging Voices Fellows from the largest applicant pool in the 26-year history of the program designed to build the diversity of the literary community.  The fellows represent varied identities and backgrounds, and work in genres from poetry, fiction and fantasy to general non-fiction, science fiction, and memoir.

Jared Jackson of PEN America said: “This is a stunning cohort of Emerging Voices Fellows, whose work reveals truths about subjects from Black feminism, displacement, and Asian-American identity to parenting, the Naga diaspora, and LGBTQ themes.”

The Emerging Voices program is committed to cultivating the careers of Black writers, and those who identify as Indigenous, persons of color, LGBTQ+, immigrants, writers with disabilities, as well as  living outside of urban centers. Through a focus on demystifying the path to publication, the initiative aims to reshape the literary landscape through increased diversity from underrepresented literary communities and enabling participation from writers across the country. The new fellows come from California, Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Washington, D.C. 

The 2022 Emerging Voices Fellows are: 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. Read their full biographies here.

The fellows will be paired with this year’s mentors, established writers, who 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.

Among the judges on this year’s 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.

Each fellow will receive a $1,500 stipend and 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. In addition, they receive a professional headshot and a complimentary one-year membership in PEN America.

With support from PEN America’s network of agents, editors, publishers, partner organizations, and outlets, a distinguished Emerging Voices Advisory Committee, and a devoted community of former Emerging Voices fellows, the program grew from PEN America Los Angeles’s forum “Writing the Immigrant Experience,” held at the Los Angeles Central Library in March 1994, which explored the experiences of first- and second-generation immigrant writers. In 1996, PEN America Los Angeles initiated Emerging Voices as a mentorship program designed to provide professional resources to writers seeking financial and creative support to pursue their craft professionally.

About PEN America

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. Learn more at pen.org.

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, [email protected], 201-247-5057