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Black Mountain Institute Awards Writing Fellowships

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City of Asylum fellowship awarded to Iranian author; writers awarded fellowships will mentor UNLV creative writing students.
Arts and Culture  |  Sep 16, 2014  |  By UNLV Media Relations
Media Contact: Joseph Langdon, Assistant Director, Black Mountain Institute, (702) 895-0505

Iranian fiction and screenwriter Hossein Mortezaeian Abkenar, center, has joined the Black Mountain Institute as the Kenneth Barlow City of Asylum Fellow. Above, Abkenar talks with BMI Associate Director Richard Wiley, left, and Abkenar's son, Nima, during a recent BMI event. (Aaron Mayes/UNLV Photo Services)

The Beverly Rogers, Carol C. Harter Black Mountain Institute at UNLV (BMI) announced the recipients of 2014-2015 writing fellowships. Each fellow in the nine-month writing program receives a $60,000 stipend, an office, computer and access to UNLV's Lied Library. The fellowships allow the writer to work in an uninterrupted environment, discuss their works in a public forum, and mentor students in UNLV's nationally recognized creative writing programs.

Fellowships are awarded to candidates whose work ranges away from the American experience and into international terrain and whose ongoing project would benefit from a period of sustained immersion. The program accepts applications from novelists, poets, playwrights, journalists, nonfiction writers, historians, political scientists, and public intellectuals.

Hossein M. Abkenar, Kenneth Barlow City of Asylum Fellow

Hossein Mortezaeian Abkenar is an Iranian fiction writer and screenwriter. His 2006 novel, "A Scorpion on the Steps of Andimeshk Railroad Station," received numerous awards and has been translated into multiple languages. His screenplays include No One Knows About Persian Cats, which earned a prize at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. Abkenar's work often explores violence, revolution, politics, and the role of women in society. His books are banned in Iran, where they have been stripped from bookstores and libraries.

The City of Asylum program provides safe haven for writers whose voices are muffled by censorship, or who are living with the threat of imprisonment or assassination. City of Asylum Las Vegas was founded in 2001, the first such program in the United States.

Waller R. Newell, Fellow in Humanistic Studies

Waller R. Newell is Professor of Political Science and Philosophy at Carleton University in Ottawa. He helped found and teaches in the Bachelor of Humanities program at Carleton, Canada's only four-year B.A. in the Great Books. His numerous books include "Tyranny: A New Interpretation;" "The Soul of a Leader: Character, Conviction and Ten Lessons in Political Greatness;" "The Code of Man: Love, Courage, Pride, Family, Country; Ruling Passion: The Erotics of Statecraft in Platonic Political Philosophy;" and the forthcoming "Tyrants: A History of Power, Injustice and Terror." A member of Ronald Reagan's presidential transition team and prominent cultural commentator, Newell is a frequent guest on television and radio programs. He has been a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C., the National Humanities Center in North Carolina, and a John Adams Fellow at the Institute of United States Studies at the University of London.

The new Black Mountain Institute Fellowship in Humanistic Studies, in cooperation with the UNLV College of Liberal Arts, provides a one-year fellowship to a senior scholar engaged in research that embodies the humanistic tradition.

Harriet A. Washington, Shearing Fellow

Harriet A. Washington is an award-winning medical writer and journalist. Her book "Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present" won the National Book Critics Circle Nonfiction Award and the PEN/Oakland Award. In 2000, she received the Congressional Black Caucus Beacon of Light Award. She has also performed as an oboist and as a classical music announcer for PBS.

The Diana L. Bennett Fellows Program at BMI offers nine-month fellowships to published writers. Fellowships are awarded to candidates whose work ranges away from the American experience and into international terrain and whose ongoing project would benefit from a period of sustained immersion. The program accepts applications from novelists, poets, playwrights, journalists, nonfiction writers, historians, political scientists, and public intellectuals.

P?ter Zilahy, Kluge Fellow

Born in Budapest, Hungary, P?ter Zilahy is a novelist, poet, playwright, and journalist whose work often blends genres and combines art forms. His books include the poetry collection "Statue Under a White Sheet Ready to Jump"; a "dictionary novel" titled "The Last Window Giraffe," which has been translated into twenty-two languages; "Drei," a book of short prose; and the multi-genre work Three plus 1.

The BMI-Kluge Fellowship, part of the Bennett Fellows Program, offers scholars the opportunity to spend part of their residency conducting research at the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

Maegan Poland, BMI Ph.D. Fellow in Fiction

Maegan Poland holds degrees in fiction and film from the University of Mississippi and the University of Southern California. Her work has been featured in the literary journal "Pleiades."

Leia Penina Wilson, BMI Ph.D. Fellow in Poetry

Leia Penina Wilson grew up in Kansas City and St. Joseph, Missouri. She has an MFA from the University of Alabama, and her poetry collection "i built a boat with all the towels in your closet (and will let you drown)" is forthcoming from Red Hen Press.

Since its inception, the Diana L. Bennett Fellows Program has received generous support from Diana L. Bennett, Tom and Mary Gallagher, Sonja and Michael Saltman, the International Women's Forum, the Library of Congress, and the U.S. Department of Education.

Founded in 2006, the Beverly Rogers, Carol C. Harter Black Mountain Institute at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, is dedicated to advancing literary and cross-cultural dialogue. Through public programs, residential fellowships, and publishing initiatives, BMI provides a cultural lens through which today's most pressing issues can be addressed and evaluated.