PEN America's Emerging Voices Fellowship, which the organization said has been newly expanded, is now open to applicants for its 25th year, which will be held virtually. A group of 12 fellows from across the country will be selected from the applicant pool. The news comes six months after the organization announced that the program would not be renewed for 2021, which prompted public backlash.
The program, PEN said in a release, provides a five-month immersive mentorship program for "early-career writers who are traditionally underrepresented in the publishing world," including Black and Indigenous people, people of color, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, immigrants, writers with disabilities, and "those living outside of urban centers."
The program, initially based in Los Angeles, will now be run jointly from the New York and L.A. offices. It now includes "curated one-on-one mentorship; introductions to editors, agents, and publishers; and workshops on editing, marketing, and other professional skills," and will "culminate in a November final reading event and celebration." The program will be guided by a newly formed Emerging Voices Advisory Committee.
“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,” Jared Jackson, manager of literary programs at PEN America, said in a statement. “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 announcement comes six months after a group of writers and former PEN America and PEN Center USA staffers and fellows wrote an open letter to PEN decrying its August 31 announcement that the fellowship would not be renewed this year. Shortly afterward, PEN America leadership emailed the PEN community with an update explaining that the program would not entirely be scrapped, but would continue on in a different form.
The fellowship application period is open from February 17 to March 17.