(NEW YORK) — PEN America today announced 12 writers who have been selected as 2023 Emerging Voices Fellows. For the third consecutive application cycle the fellows were chosen from the largest applicant pool in the fellowship’s history. The fellows represent varied ages, identities, geographic locations, and backgrounds, and work in genres including poetry, literary fiction, fantasy, memoir, science fiction, and essays.

Jared Jackson, director, Literary Programs and Emerging Voices, said: “This year’s amazing cohort of fellows explore issues and ideas including disability, acceptance, immigration, resistance, sex, gender, colonialism, industrialization, surveillance, exile, and belonging, among others. We are honored to support a talented group of writers and to cultivate their path to publication with the goal of accelerating the diversity of the literary community.”

The Emerging Voices Fellowship program is committed to reshaping the literary landscape through increased inclusion from underrepresented literary communities— Black and persons of color, indigenous, LGBTQ+, immigrants and writers with disabilities— as well as those living outside of urban centers. The initiative, now in its 27th year, includes fellows from California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Texas, and Virginia.

The 2023 Emerging Voices Fellows are: Vera Blossom, Lindsay Ferguson, Joy McKinley, Jassmine Parks, Arianne Elena Payne, Zen Ren, Denise Rhone, Kristen Shim, Layli Shirani, D’mani Thomas, JJ Xiao, and Lucy Zhou. Full bios are here.

The fellows will be paired with this year’s mentors, established writers, who include: Fatimah Asghar, Anelise Chen, Alechia Dow, Meng Jin, Lisa Ko, Lilliam Li, Jasmine Mans, Airea D. Matthews, Deesha Philyaw, Ingrid Rojas Contreras, Tanaïs, and Lidia Yuknavitch.

The judges on this year’s final selection committee were Leila Chatti, author of the poetry collection, Deluge; Marlon Peterson, author of the memoir, Bird Uncaged: An Abolitionist’s Freedom Song, and Cleyvis Natera, author of the novel, Neruda on the Park.  

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. To learn more visit PEN.org

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