Meet the 2022 Aspen Words Emerging Writer Fellows

March 14, 2022  • Aspen Words

Aspen Words recently announced their latest cohort of Emerging Writer Fellows. The fellowships are available in fiction, memoir, narrative nonfiction, poetry, and middle-grade genres and allow participants to access Summer Words, their annual writers’ conference. Summer Words gives remarkable writers at the early stages of their careers a boost into the literary community and the publishing world. Get to know the 2022 Emerging Writer Fellows:

Creative Nonfiction
Mia Innocenti, nominated by Jacob Slichter

Mia Innocenti is an essayist based in New York City. She studies creative nonfiction at Sarah Lawrence College where she will be receiving her MFA this May. Additionally, during her time at Sarah Lawrence, Mia has worked as a teaching assistant for the Writing Institute’s creative writing classes. Currently, her essays examine her relationships— both old and new— as well as her grief following an abortion. Mia also takes interest in playing with form, introducing various poetic elements into some of her pieces. Her work can be found in Honeyguide Literary Magazine.

What are you currently reading? 

I’m currently splitting my time between re-reading Carmen Maria Machado’s In The Dream House for the fourth time and tackling Robert A. Caro’s collection The Years of Lyndon Johnson.

Haley E.D. Houseman, nominated by Alejandra Oliva

Haley E.D. Houseman is a nonfiction writer with a focus on communities of humans (and nonhumans.) She’s passionate about nature, how we craft narratives about the natural world and our place in it, and how we maintain archives of those relationships. She is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of HumanxNature, an anthology of unconventional writing that imagines new relationships with the natural world, as well as a journalist and essayist. She is most recently published in Body Language, an anthology from Catapult.

What is your favorite word?

“Susurrus”—a low humming, often associated with the lively hum of bugs, frogs, and other wildlife. I miss the sound so much in the winter, and I can’t wait until spring brings it back! The word is such a perfectly onomatopoeia, it feels and sounds just like that warm buzz.

Justine C Teu, nominated by Helen Schulman

Justine C Teu is a Brooklyn-based writer pursuing her MFA in fiction at The New School, where she also serves as a WriteOn teaching fellow. She has work featured or forthcoming in Passages North, The Offing, Pidgeonholes, Storm Cellar, the VIDA Review, and other publications. She has also received support or attended The Kenyon Review Writer’s Workshop and the Mendocino Writer’s Workshop. Currently, she is working on a campus novel about friend breakups, Chinese superstition, and the ways we negotiate the blurred lines of life’s endings.

What is your writing routine?

I like to write in small, consistent spurts every day. I used to be a morning writer, but as long as I can get a good, concentrated 500 words in I consider that a great success; but I also recognize that some days will be better than others for writing!

Dana Wilson, nominated by Molly Prentiss

Dana Wilson holds an MFA in Fiction from Brooklyn College. Her work has appeared in New England Review, and she has been nominated for the 2022 PEN/Dau Prize for Emerging Writers. She was also a finalist for the 2021 Robert Day Award for Fiction. She lives in New York City and is currently working on her first novel.

What are you currently reading?

Lately, I’ve been reading three or four books at a time—right now I am especially loving Cold Enough for Snow by Jessica Au. I am also really enjoying Hanya Yanagihara’s To Paradise, and Doireann Ní Ghríofa’s absolutely gorgeous A Ghost in the Throat.

Micah Cash, nominated by Adam Wilson

Micah Cash lives in New York City, where he works as a researcher and bartender. He is also a student at Columbia University’s MFA Creative Writing Program. His fiction has appeared in The Druken Canal and Forever Magazine, and his nonfiction in The Village Voice and The Drift. Micah is from Tulsa, Oklahoma.

What is your favorite word?

My favorite word right now is penumbral: relating to a space of partial illumination (as in an eclipse) between the perfect shadow on all sides and the light.

Lauren Morrow, nominated by Dur e Aziz Amna

Lauren Morrow is a fiction writer from St. Louis, MO, and a 2021-2022 Zell Fellow in the University of Michigan’s Helen Zell Writers’ Program where she earned her MFA. She is the recipient of two Hopwood Awards, a Tyson Award in Fiction, an Andrea Beauchamp Prize, and a Ronald Moran Prize. Her work has appeared in the South Carolina Review, Parhelion Literary Magazine, Soon Quarterly, and Young Ravens Literary Review. Before earning her MFA, she worked in arts publicity in New York for a decade (first at BAM, then at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater). She currently lives in Brooklyn and is working on a short story collection and a novel.

What are you currently reading? 

I’m currently finishing The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans, which is phenomenal. Her short stories are remarkably sharp, moving, and funny. I’m also revisiting Hanif Abdurraqib’s A Little Devil in America. It’s a captivating look at the history of Black performance, and it’s been really helpful to me as I think through my own writing about the topic. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that I’m anxiously awaiting the release of American Fever by my friend (and nominator!) Dur e Aziz Amna! I’ve pre-ordered my copy and can’t wait for its arrival in August.

Leila Nadir, nominated by Sangamithra Iyer

Leila Nadir is an Afghan-American artist, writer, and critic based between Montréal and Maine. She earned her PhD in English from Columbia University and is now Associate Professor of Environmental Humanities at the University of Rochester. Her work has been supported by the New York Foundation for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Andrew Mellon Foundation. She is currently writing an intimate-geopolitical memoir about the wars that rage within and beyond family, including her parents’ marital war, the Cold war, the American Culture Wars, and the wars in Afghanistan.

What is your favorite word?

Record. I’m working on a chapter right now about the impact of the VHS revolution on my childhood home and how my father used the VCR to record every Dan Rather broadcast about Afghanistan. Recording became a medium for the expression of exile, a technological displacement of the need to connect. A couple of days ago, I looked up the etymology of record, a word that is also borrowed into Persian, the language we spoke at home. At its origins, record comes from Latin recordari ‘remember’, based on cor, cord- ‘heart’. I haven’t been able to get that off my mind ever since. What does it mean when we record? And in these times when we record so much? What are we doing to our hearts?

Javan Howard, nominated by Pichchenda Bao

Javan Howard is a poet and writer from The Bronx, NY. He truly believes that the lived experience is the ultimate teaching tool and uses poetry as a social forum to foster discourse about love, culture, and identity. He has previously facilitated workshops across NYC with The New York State Office of Children and Family Services, Voices UnBroken, The GO Project, and Wingspan Arts. He is currently a Teaching Artist for Teachers & Writers Collaborative and Usdan Summer Camp For The Arts. He is also the TAP Co-Director for Curricula, Mentorship & Facilitation at Community Word Project.

What is your writing routine?

I’m always inspired by my lived experiences. I write poems weekly as I process a few themes. I have a small biweekly writing group that I’ve been with since 2020 and we provide each other with writing prompts that we respond to across genres and take turns leading the sessions for new works and works in progress.

However, I would most definitely say that I’m a late-night writer. I do most of my brainstorming through the day and more fine-tuning and development at night. I do larger revisions for my collections between the summer and the residencies that I teach.

Lucie Berjoan, nominated by Enee Abelman

Lucie Berjoanis a poet based in Iowa City, where she is pursuing a MA in secondary English education. She holds an MFA in critical studies from the Sandberg Instituut and is the author of the chapbook, Changing Clothes. She has had work published in The Breakwater Review and Barnstorm Journal and is an editor for the Ugly Duckling Presse poetry periodical, Second Factory.

What is your favorite word?

Favorites are hard for me, but two words I really like are thyme and hemlock.

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