Aspen Words Announces its 2017 Class of Emerging Writer Fellows

March 1, 2017  • Aspen Words

Last week, Aspen Words announced its 2017 class of Emerging Writer Fellows. The fellowship program, now in its fifth year, seeks to give exceptional writers at the early stages of their careers a needed boost into the literary community and the publishing world. Candidates were nominated by writers, agents, editors, graduate writing program administrators, educators, and others associated with the publishing and writing industry. A jury of professional readers from the literary world evaluated writing samples from 180 nominees for just 10 fellowship awards in a variety of genres, including fiction, memoir, and poetry.

Fellows receive a full scholarship to Summer Words, a six-day literary gathering held in Aspen each June. They will join aspiring writers from across the country for writing workshops taught by acclaimed authors, meetings with publishing experts, panels on writing and creativity, as well as readings and networking events. Past fellows have gone on to win prestigious literary awards and receive major book deals following Summer Words.

2017 Emerging Writer Fellows Headshots


SARAH FUCHS, nominated by Helen Schulman

Sarah Fuchs taught middle and high school English and humanities for 18 years in Accra, Ghana; Kampala, Uganda; Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; Lomé, Togo; and Oakland, where she co-founded the School for Social Justice and Community Development. A graduate of the NYU Writers Workshop in Paris, she is the 2016-2017 Carl Djerassi Fiction Fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is working on her first novel.

WILLIAM HAWKINS, nominated by Michelle Latiolais

William Hawkins is a recent graduate of the UC Irvine Programs in Writing in Fiction. His short stories have appeared on and the Blue Lyra Review, among others. He currently lives in Los Angeles, California.

HOLLY TABOR, nominated by Paul Griner

Holly Tabor lives in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, with her husband Scott and two children. She teaches seventh-grade language arts. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in English, creative writing emphasis, at the University of Louisville. Her fiction and poetry draw in many ways from her experiences and observations growing up lower-middle class in rural Kentucky, as well as more recent reflections on domesticity, identity, and the contradictions and conundrums of adult life.

MADELEINE WATTS, nominated by Anna Stein

Madeleine Watts is a young Australian writer living in New York. Her writing has been published in The White Review, The Believer, Los Angeles Review of Books, and The Lifted Brow, among others. The winner of the 2015 Griffith Review Novella Competition, she is working on finishing a novel and is currently a student in the Columbia University MFA in Creative Writing.

C PAM ZHANG, nominated by Nancy Reisman

C Pam Zhang’s fiction is in or coming to Black Warrior Review, The Missouri Review, The Offing, Tin House Open Bar, and elsewhere. She’s received fellowships from the Tin House Workshop, the Hambidge Center, and the NY State Summer Writers Institute. Recently she was a runner up in The Missouri Review Editors’ Prize and an honorable mention in the Zoetrope Short Fiction Contest. She’s polishing up a literary “revisionist Western” novel about two immigrants fleeing their father’s ghost in a Gold Rush-inspired California. Find her on Twitter @cpamzhang.


COURTNEY GILLETTE, nominated by Kathleen Nishimoto

Courtney Gillette is an essayist and critic. She has reviewed books for Lambda Literary since 2010. Her essays have been published in BuzzFeed, The Huffington Post, Ardor Literary Magazine, and she was named winner of the 2015 Gertrude Prose Contest. In 2013, her work was chosen by A.M. Homes for The Masters Review and nominated for a Pushcart Prize. A graduate of the Lesley University MFA program, she was one of ten finalists for the 2015 BuzzFeed Emerging Writers Fellowship. She lives in Brooklyn with one bookseller and three cats.

HALA IQBAL, nominated by Kathleen Nishimoto

Hala Iqbal is a postdoctoral scientist who grew up between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, went to university in Boston, and somehow ended up in New York. She moonlights as a writer; her work has appeared or is forthcoming in publications including The LA Review of Books, The Offing, Salon, Vox, and more.

SASHA R. MOGHIMI-KIAN, nominated by Nadia Q Ahmad

Sasha R. Moghimi-Kian writes about the dichotomy of being American when your parents are not, the stigma against mental illness and suicide, and how the political is personal. As a writer, she’s been published in The PEN Center’s Anthology “Only Light Can Do That,” The Miami Herald, and the online blog for the Florida Initiative for Suicide Prevention. She is a VONA/Voices alum, as well as a scholarship recipient to the VORTEXT workshop at Hedgebrook.

SAM VAN WETTER, nominated by Terry Tempest Williams

Sam Van Wetter is a writer, fiber artist, and ski patroller living in the high country of Colorado. His plays and prose are his passion. Sam graduated from Dartmouth College in 2016.


EMILY JUNGMIN YOON, nominated by Keith Witham

Emily Jungmin Yoon’s poems and translations appear or are forthcoming in The New Yorker, POETRY, Southern Humanities Review, OmniVerse, and elsewhere. She has received awards and fellowships from Ploughshares’ Emerging Writer’s Contest, AWP’s WC&C Scholarship Competition, The Home School in Miami, and New York University. She is the Poetry Editor for The Margins, the literary magazine of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, and is a PhD student in the East Asian Languages and Civilizations Department at the University of Chicago.