Now, in its 15th year, PEN's Emerging Voices Program is a wonderful opportunity for writers from diverse communities to be mentored, to learn more about the craft of writing, and to present their work to a larger audience in Los Angeles. Here's a description of the program from the penusa.org website:
Emerging Voices is a literary fellowship program that aims to provide new writers, who lack access, with the tools they will need to launch a professional writing career. Over the course of the year, each Emerging Voices fellow participates in: a professional mentorship; hosted Q & A evenings with prominent local authors; a series of Master classes focused on genre; and two public readings. The fellowship includes a $1,000 stipend.
The Mentorship Project grew out of PEN USA’s forum “Writing the Immigrant Experience,” held at the Los Angeles Central Library in March 1994, which explored the issues, problems and challenges faced by first and second generation immigrant writers. It was evident from the forum that many of the culturally diverse communities of writers in Southern California have special needs and are often isolated from the literary establishment. In the fall of 1995, PEN USA initiated Emerging Voices as a literary mentorship designed to launch potential professional writers from minority, immigrant and other underserved communities.
Participants need not be published, but the program is directed toward poets and writers of fiction and creative nonfiction with clear ideas of what they hope to accomplish through their writing. There are no age restrictions.
This project is supported in part by grants from the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, The James Irvine Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.
And finally, thankfully, the Emerging Voices anthology, Strange Cargo, has arrived with a forward by Janet Fitch. My story, "At Four Thousand Feet and Rising," is featured in the anthology; so is the work of Stephanie Han, Shonda Buchanan, and Denise Uyehara who were fellows in the program with me in 1999.
A reading from the anthology takes place at Skylight Books in L.A. on September 12th, 5 pm.