Fellowships play an important role in the field of creative writing. Often seen as prestigious resumė-builders, these honors can definitely help you get into an MFA program or find a literary agent. But fellowships are also so much more than just a line on your C.V.—the best ones will build your confidence, introduce you to new mentors, and grant you valuable space and time to focus on your craft. Plus, fellowships mark a key way for writers to fund themselves and their work.
Check out our roundup of some of the most well-known fellowships for emerging and early-career writers. Some don’t accept applications for a while, but writers typically prepare fellowship applications for months or even a year—think plenty of time to gather recommendation letters and revise your poems until they’re as strong as possible. So, bookmark these stellar opportunities for the next application season.
The Miami Book Fair Emerging Writer Fellowships
Want to live in Miami, Florida for a year while working on a full-length manuscript? That’s the idea behind The Miami Book Fair Emerging Writer Fellowships, which are open to anyone living in the U.S. or a U.S. Territory who is 21 or older, has not yet published a book, and is not a degree-seeking student.
Poetry applicants must submit 20 to 30 pages of work, along with a description of the manuscript-length project they’re working on and two letters of recommendation. Winners earn a $41,000 stipend and gain professional experience in either teaching creative writing or arts administration. While this year’s fellows were recently announced, expect 2023 deadlines to occur around May.
Aspen Words Emerging Writer Fellowships
Located in Aspen, Colorado, the organization Aspen Words hosts workshops, talks with agents, and more. Winners of the Aspen Words Emerging Writer Fellowships—awarded to early career writers who have not yet had a full-length book published or contracted for publication—participate in this innovative programming for free through a summer residency model, with the fellowship also encompassing airfare, lodging, and some meals.
2022 winners have already been announced, and stand-out faculty for this season includes Terrance Hayes, Mark Doty, and Natalie Serber. Attendees will meet with agents and editors from Greenhouse Literary Agency, Ayesha Pande Literary, Harper (Ecco), and other established organizations. You’ll need to reach out to your connections for this opportunity—self-nominations aren’t accepted, and instead, writers must be nominated by a mentor. Deadlines for 2023 aren’t listed yet, but 2022 fellows were announced in February.
PEN America Emerging Voices Fellowship
The writing industry has a serious diversity problem, and The PEN America Emerging Voices Fellowship is committed to reckoning with that fact and improving the literary landscape. This early career fellowship is meant for traditionally underrepresented writers, including writers of color, LGBTQ writers, immigrants, and writers with disabilities. Applicants must live in the U.S., cannot have an advanced degree in creative writing or a full-length book published, and must be 21 or older.
The fellowship awards a $1,500 honorarium, as well as five months of mentorship with an established poet, access to workshops and programming, a professional headshot, a guide to submitting work to literary journals, and more. Applications for 2023 open in January.
Kenyon Review’s Developmental Editing Fellowship for Emerging Writers
Past Kenyon Review fellows include Natalie Shapero, Molly McCully Brown, and many other amazing poets. Applications for 2023 haven’t been released yet, with 2022 fellows recently announced, but applicants must be early in their careers. The prize is four months of significant one-on-one mentorship. The 2022 developmental editing mentor for poetry is Brandon Som, who has received a Kate Tufts Discovery Award, a Snowbound Prize, and been published by Nightboat Books and Tulepo Press.
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