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Black Mountain Institute and The Believer Magazine Announce 2018-2019 Fellows and Writers-in-Residence

A diverse array of esteemed writers will contribute to the cultural landscape in Las Vegas.
Arts and Culture  |  Jul 20, 2018  |  By UNLV News Center
Media Contact: Media Contact: Sara Ortiz (702) 895-5365,
Black Mountain Institute

Noted writers will take up residence at the Beverly Rogers, Carol C. Harter Black Mountain Institute at UNLV for the literary center’s 2018-19 season. (Josh Hawkins/UNLV Creative Services)

A MacArthur Fellow, the co-directors of the Mojave School in Pahrump, two “5 Under 35” recipients from the National Book Foundation, a daring poet and cultural critic, and a nationally known essayist are among the noted writers who will take up residence at the Beverly Rogers, Carol C. Harter Black Mountain Institute (BMI) at UNLV for the literary center’s 2018-19 season.

“From its inception, BMI’s fellows have brought a jolt of energy and vitality to our arts community,” said Joshua Wolf Shenk, the institute’s executive and artistic director. “This coming year represents a striking advance, both for the breadth and quality of our guests and the number of community partners who have joined forces to support them, make space for them, and welcome them to this unlikely literary town.”

BMI’s 2018-2019 writers-in-residence will also include contributors and editors for The Believer magazine as well as two new fellows in BMI’s prestigious program for creative writers earning their Ph.D.s in English literature.

The visiting fellows and writers-in-residence are:

Hanif Abdurraqib, Shearing Fellow, is a poet, essayist, and cultural critic from Columbus, Ohio. His first collection of poems The Crown Ain't Worth Much was released by Button Poetry in 2016 and was nominated for a Hurston-Wright Legacy Award. His first collection of essays, They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us, was released to critical acclaim in November 2017 by Two Dollar Radio. His next projects are Go Ahead In The Rain, a book on A Tribe Called Quest due out in 2019 by University of Texas Press, and They Don't Dance No Mo', due out from Random House in 2020.

Lesley Nneka Arimah, Shearing Fellow, was born in the UK and grew up in Nigeria and wherever else her father was stationed for work. She has been a finalist for a National Magazine Award and the Caine Prize, and a winner of the African Commonwealth Short Story Prize and an O. Henry Award. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, and GRANTA and has received support from The Elizabeth George Foundation, The Jerome Foundation, and MacDowell, among others. She was selected for the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35.” Her debut collection, What It Means When a Man Falls From The Sky, won the 2017 Kirkus Prize.

Camille Bromley, Tran Thi Oanh Writer-in-Residence at The Juhl, is a features editor at The Believer and social media editor for the Out of Eden Walk, a National Geographic project. She is a former associate editor of Harper's Magazine and lives in Brooklyn.

Susana Ferreira, Saltman Fellow & Writer-in-Residence at The Pioneer, is a Portuguese-Canadian freelance reporter, producer, and longform writer for magazines and film. As a correspondent and stringer, she has filed stories from throughout the world for major dailies, wires, television news networks, and radio. She speaks five languages — six, if you count "Toronto English."

Amanda Fortini, Shearing Fellow, has written for The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, The New Republic, and The Paris Review, among many others. She has been the William Kittredge Visiting Professor at the University of Montana. She is a contributing editor at Elle Magazine, where she writes about culture, feminism, and women's issues. Her essays have been widely anthologized, including in Best American Political Writing and Best of Slate, and she was nominated for a James Beard Foundation Journalism Award. She is currently working on a book about Las Vegas.

Sarah Marshall, Writer-in-Residence, grew up in Oregon and Hawaii and earned an MFA in fiction at Portland State University. Her writing has appeared in The New Republic, BuzzFeed, and The Believer, among other publications, and she co-hosts You're Wrong About, a podcast about misremembered history. A former future academic, she is now a traveling housesitter, babysitter, sled dog handler, and journalist.

Derek Palacio, Shearing Fellow, is the author of the novella How to Shake the Other Man and the novel The Mortifications. He is the co-director, with Claire Vaye Watkins, of the Mojave School, a free creative writing workshop for teenagers in rural Nevada.

Sreshtha Sen, Saltman Fellow, is a writer from Delhi, India, and one of the founding editors of The Shoreline Review, an online journal for and by South Asian poets. She studied Literatures in English at Delhi University and completed her MFA at Sarah Lawrence College. Her work has been published in Bitch Media, Breakwater Review, The Margins, MACK, and Meridian. She was the 2017-18 McCrindle Foundation Fellow for Readings/Workshops at Poets & Writers.

Claire Vaye Watkins, Shearing Fellow, is a Guggenheim Fellow. She is the author of the novel Gold Fame Citrus and the story collection Battleborn, which won the Story Prize, the Dylan Thomas Prize, New York Public Library’s Young Lions Fiction Award, the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a Silver Pen Award from the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame. A recipient of fellowships from the Sewanee and Bread Loaf Writers’ Conferences, Watkins was also one of the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35.”

Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, Elias Ghanem Chair, is an independent journalist best known for her 2003 nonfiction book Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx. The book has received many awards, including the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and the Ron Ridenhour Book Prize. In 2006, she was a recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship. In 2010, Random Family was named one of the Top Ten Works of Journalism of the Decade by the Arthur L. Carter Institute of Journalism at NYU.

Niela Orr, BMI Writer-in-Residence at The Juhl, is a writer from Philadelphia. She is an interviews editor of The Believer, a columnist for The Baffler, and a contributing editor of The Organist podcast. Her writing has also appeared in the New York Times Book Review, Elle, BuzzFeed, and McSweeney's Quarterly.

The new fellows and writers-in-residence will join Hossein Abkenar, the Kenneth Barlow City of Asylum Fellow, who is currently in residence at BMI.

BMI fellowships are supported by numerous private and community sources. The Shearing family supports the Shearing Fellowship; The Tran Thi Oanh Fellowship will support visits from Vietnamese-American writers; the Elias Ghanem Chair will help kick-start UNLV’s new nonfiction program in creative writing; and Sonja and Michael Saltman will support two emerging writers who will begin BMI’s prestigious Ph.D. fellowships.

In addition, Juhl, a loft-style community in downtown Las Vegas, has partnered with BMI to create a studio and event space. BMI also continues its work with The Pioneer, a development stewarded by architect and BMI board member Christopher Goya.