(New York, NY) — The literary and free expression organization PEN America today announced the opening of applications for its newly-expanded Emerging Voices Fellowship. The program provides a five-month immersive mentorship program for early-career writers who are traditionally underrepresented in the publishing world. The program is committed to cultivating the careers of Black writers, and serves writers who identify as Indigenous, persons of color, LGBTQIA+, immigrants, writers with disabilities, and those living outside of urban centers. The program aims to diversify the publishing and media industries through its now 25 years of operation.

“Among the lessons of the past year and the history of our nation: America needs to hear more voices, more people traditionally excluded from the literary world, and aspire to a newer and richer range of literary art,” said Jared Jackson, manager of literary programs at PEN America. “This year, in a newly expanded and truly national form, the Emerging Voices Fellowship will continue to invest in mentorship, demystifying the writing and publishing process, and nurturing the work of emerging writers.”

The program includes curated one-on-one mentorship; introductions to editors, agents, and publishers; and workshops on editing, marketing, and other professional skills. Established in 1996 in Los Angeles, the program was on a brief hiatus last year amid the pandemic. Now, in its new virtual form, Emerging Voices will support 12 fellows from across the nation and culminate in a November final reading event and celebration. PEN America’s newly formed Emerging Voices Advisory Committee, to be announced in the coming weeks, includes award-winning authors and editors, former fellows, and staff. This group will provide program guidance and assist efforts for the fellows’ work to be supported and disseminated.

“For a quarter century, the PEN America Emerging Voices Fellowship has transformed careers and elevated the work of both mentees and mentors,” said PEN America Los Angeles Executive Director Michelle Franke. “Over 150 writers have gone through the program, and their works include award-winning books and anthologies, memoirs and personal histories, poetry collections and reportage. This year’s fellows will have the added burden of working amid an economic downturn and a pandemic, but our mentors and our staff are ready to help them navigate.”

The fellowship originally grew out of PEN America Los Angeles’ “Writing the Immigrant Experience” forum, held at the Los Angeles Central Library in March 1994, which explored the experiences of first- and second-generation immigrant writers. The program, now managed by staff in both the New York and Los Angeles offices of PEN America, includes a network of former fellows across the country who have benefitted from the mentorship, skill-building, and community that the fellowship has traditionally afforded.

The fellowship application period is open from February 17 to March 17. For more information, visit the PEN America Emerging Voices webpage.