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Black Mountain Institute Announces 2017-2018 Fellows

Writers will contribute to the cultural landscape at UNLV and the community.
Arts & Culture  |  May 18, 2017  |  By UNLV News Center
Media Contact: Karyn S. Hollingsworth, College of Liberal Arts (702) 895-2513
Poet Heather Winterer reads selections from her book "The Two Standards" during the Black Mountain Institute Alumni Reading Series

A novelist who is redefining Southern literature, an internationally acclaimed historian who wrote the manifesto for agnostics, and a novelist/investigative journalist who has covered stories from Los Angeles to Palestine will take up residencies at the Beverly Rogers, Carol C. Harter Black Mountain Institute (BMI) for the international literary center’s 2017-18 season.

Tayari Jones, Lesley Hazelton and Ben Ehrenreich are the newest fellows in the Diana L. Bennett Fellowship program at BMI. The writers will join Hossein Abkenar, the Kenneth Barlow City of Asylum Fellow, currently in residence at BMI. The new fellows will introduce themselves to the community in September at the Beverly Rogers Literature and Law Building.

“Stretching back to long-term residencies with Wole Soyinka and E.L. Doctorow, BMI has an illustrious tradition of bringing the best writers and intellectuals to enrich our community here,” said Joshua Wolf Shenk, BMI’s executive director and writer-in-residence. “This year brings another dazzling group of lyrical writers whose work is urgent and provocative.”

Each year, BMI offers the Bennett Fellowship to three critically acclaimed writers who, for one or two semesters, contribute to the cultural landscape of UNLV and the larger Las Vegas community. The program is named for entrepreneur and philanthropist Diana L. Bennett. Past fellows include: Walter Kirn (Thumbsucker, Up in the Air), David L. Ulin, Tom Bissell, Yelena Akhtiorskaya and Okey Ndibe.

The visiting fellows are:

Tayari Jones

Tayari Jones is the author of the novels Leaving Atlanta, The Untelling, Silver Sparrow, and An American Marriage (Algonquin Books, February 2018).Tayari Jones Her writing has appeared in Tin House, The Believer, The New York Times, and Callaloo. A member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers, she also has received the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, Lifetime Achievement Award in Fine Arts from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, United States Artist Fellowship, NEA Fellowship and Radcliffe Institute Bunting Fellowship. She is an associate professor in the MFA program at Rutgers-Newark University.

Lesley Hazleton

Lesley Hazleton is a writer and psychologist, also called “The Accidental Theologist,” who explores the vast and volatile arena in which religion and politics intersect.Lesley Hazleton And she does so as a resolute agnostic -- thus her latest book, Agnostic: A Spirited Manifesto. Hazleton reported from Jerusalem for 13 years, contributing to The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, Harper's, The Nation, and other publications. She’s working on her 13th book and blogs at, casting "an agnostic eye on religion, politics, and existence." A repeat TED speaker, her talks have been viewed more than three million times.

Ben Ehrenreich

Ben Ehrenreich’s most recent book, The Way to the Spring: Life and Death in Palestine, based on several years of reporting from the West Bank, was selected as one of the best books of 2016 by The Guardian, The Economist, and the San Francisco Chronicle.Ben Ehrenreich He is also the author of two novels, Ether and The Suitors. His work has been published in the London Review of Books, the New York Times Magazine, The Nation, and Los Angeles, among other publications. In 2011 he was honored with a National Magazine Award.

Black Mountain Institute

The Beverly Rogers, Carol C. Carter Black Mountain Institute brings writers and the literary imagination into the heart of public life through innovative public programs, award-winning publications, and a diverse array of fellowships. BMI is part of the UNLV College of Liberal Arts, where it collaborates with prestigious graduate programs in creative writing. In fall 2018 the first students will enroll in a new track in literary non-fiction.