2023 Lit Fest Fellows

Emerging Writer Fellowship in Nonfiction

Selected by Leslie Jamison

Fellowship Winner: Georgia English, “Ghosts”
 "'Ghosts' evokes its emotional and physical landscapes—the life of an Australian sheep farm, and the layered emotional webbing of a family—with all the attunement, intuitions, and sharp nerve-endings of a child still discovering the world. We feel the devastation of lambs dying in a sudden cold snap; the quiet smothering of women trying to make their art, and make their voices heard; the tenderness and tangled limbs of sisters growing up together; and—throughout it all—a voice that sings clear and true of how it feels to love the world, and to be wounded by it." —Leslie Jamison

Runner-Up: Nicki Orser, excerpt from “Coyote”
"'Coyote' finds language for the heartbroken futility of a parent struggling to take care of a son whose troubles extend beyond her reach; finding a voice broken by honesty, shorn clean of sentimentality, and speaking from a deep place in the soul far past pretense or performance." —Leslie Jamison

Runner-Up: Lizz Dawson, “Badfish, Don’t Bother Me”
"'Badfish, don’t bother me' evokes the devastation of addiction, suicide, regret, and grief with a sharp, precise attention to the ways tangible objects stay haunted by heartbreak; its prose charged by ruthless, tender rhythms that hold deep truths in deceptively simple sentences, throwing its gaze back to an innocence “before blackout curtains, when we still let in the moonlight.” —Leslie Jamison

Distinguished Finalists: Abdelrahman ElGendy, Diana Heald, Jen Maher, Kira Witkin, Erin Vachon

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Emerging Writer Fellowship in Fiction

Selected by Vanessa Hua

Fellowship winner: Rachel Luria, "Children Will Drown in Water"
"'Children Will Drown in Water' is eerie and lyrical, capturing the ache, yearning, and menace of adolescence." —Vanessa Hua

Rachel Luria is an Associate Professor at Florida Atlantic University’s Wilkes Honors College. In June 2018, she was the Artist-in-Residence in Everglades, where she composed original fables inspired by the wilderness of the Florida Everglades. Her nonfiction was named a Notable Essay of 2015 by the editors of Best American Essays and her work has appeared in Arts & Letters, CRAFT, The Normal School, Phoebe, Dash Literary Journal, and others.

Runners Up: Jennifer Batler, “Ectopia Cordis”
"Ectopia Cordis' is a gut punch, depicting the gallows humor and trauma of an obstetrics nurse on the night shift." —Vanessa Hua

Mialise Carney, “The Rage Room”
"'The Rage Room' is a chilling depiction of commercialized violence and how the struggle for autonomy can drive a mother to madness." —Vanessa Hua

Distinguished Finalists: Baluanne Conteh, Karan Gill, Amy Lam, Lucy Marcus, Elijah Sparkman, Cathy Wang, Monica Villavicencio, Xueyi Zhou

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Emerging Writer Fellowship in Poetry

Selected by Victoria Chang

Fellowship Winner: Isabel Cristina Lanzetta, “ancestor road”
"The rhythmic intensities in these poems, combined with the skillful use of repetition, gave the poems a song-like state. This poet also has a strong control of the line, writing a beautiful imagistic line." —Victoria Chang

Isabel Cristina Lanzetta knows Arizona to be home. Her work has been published in the Oakland Arts Review, New Reader Magazine, Leviathan, Curios Magazine, and Convergence: Young Authors of Arizona, among others. Isabel’s poetry often explores inherited stories of displacement, cultural erasure, and embodied memory. She received her BA in English and Southwest Studies from Colorado College. As an interdisciplinary artist, you may find her engaged with written and visual storytelling, metalwork, and movement. She currently lives in Denver.

Runner-Up: Laura Paul Watson, “Taxus” and other poems
"These are poems and scenes of nature, the pastoral, and have an elegance and maturity in the language. These poems ask questions that don't have answers." —Victoria Chang

Runner-Up: Winshen Liu, “I Tend to Call At Night” and other poems
"These poems primarily use the power of narrative and storytelling as their propulsive force, lineating a diasporic state of mind and life in a lyrical manner." —Victoria Chang

Distinguished Finalists: Margarita Cruz, Nicole Arocho Hernández, Yaccaira Slavatierra, Rachel Whitfield

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Emerging Writer Fellowship for Screenwriting

Selected by Mitali Jahagirdar

Fellowship Winner: Luke Muyskens, “Focus Group”
"The writer demonstrated a command of pilot structure, quickly setting up its flawed protagonist Rat, his perilous circumstances as an undocumented immigrant, and the central mystery of an underhanded corporation with a nefarious goal. The direction of the story was apparent, and by the Act I break the protagonist made a clear choice that propelled the story to the next Act.” —Mitali Jahagirdar

Luke Muyskens is a screenwriter and fiction writer living in St. Paul, Minnesota. His work has appeared in West Branch, Third Coast, Hopkins Review, SAND, New American Writing, Arts & Letters, and a Pact Press anthology on the opioid epidemic. He earned an MFA in 2016 from Queen's University of Charlotte's Low Residency: Latin America program and was a 2018 Tin House Scholar. His screenwriting was showcased in the 2022 Yes, And… Laughter Lab. Beyond writing, Luke is collecting uranium glass and trying to sell a rusty 1995 Cadillac Eldorado. 

Runner-Up: Merrit Schmidt, “Suicide at Noon”
"Witty dialogue, distinct characters. I thought this was an amusing take on a dark subject matter!” —Mitali Jahagirdar

Special Mention: Alex Fountain, "Mark of the Beast"

Distinguished Finalists: Mark Bowes, Ji Do, Kevin Elkmann, Maria Gabriela Guevara, Savannah Mallory, Elly Michaels