The selection panel for the Straw Dog Writers Guild Emerging Writer Fellowship has announced the 2022-23 shortlist of three writers. They are Vida James, Regine Jackson, and Syki Barbee. One writer will be named the 2022-23 Fellow in March.
The Fellow will receive a $3000 grant from Straw Dog Writers Guild to be used for writing-related expenses, access to mentors who can offer assistance with writing needs identified by the Fellow, a professional author website, valued at $1,500, sponsored by Valley of Writers, membership to Straw Dog Writers Guild for two years, and other benefits.
Syki Barbee of Springfield MA is a first-generation college graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in English and specializations in Professional Writing and Technical Communication & Creative Writing from UMass, Amherst. She is passionate about the centralization of BIPOC characters and characters from other underrepresented communities in literature.
Born and raised in Springfield, MA, Regine Jackson loved reading as a child. Her mother worked as a clerk and page at different libraries in the city and would always bring books home – from manga to Diana Wynne Jones. Regine grew up wanting to write characters in those worlds; characters who looked like her and who she could relate to.
Vida James is a Nuyorican social worker from Brooklyn, NY. She is a Delaney Fellow in the UMass Amherst MFA Program for Poets & Writers. She is the winner of the 2021 St. Botolph Club Foundation Emerging Artists Award and a 2021 Cara Parravani Memorial Award in Fiction. Her writing has been supported by Tin House, Bread Loaf, and VONA/Voices. She has work appearing in Story, New England Review, Epiphany, and elsewhere.
The Emerging Writer Fellowship was designed to support women of color and gender expansive writers of color based in Western Massachusetts at the early stages of their career. The Fellowship was created to help emerging writers negotiate barriers that may prevent them from accessing mentorship and pursuing publication of their work. In 2022-23, the second cycle of the Emerging Writers Fellowship Program, the genre is fiction.
This year, the selection panel was made up of writers Kaija Langley, Aqueela Culbreath-Britt, and Fungai Tichawangana. Speaking on behalf of the panel, Tichawangana said that a number of the writing samples submitted by the applicants made intriguing reading. “We received some great writing samples and it made the selection process enjoyable. There was quite a leaning towards speculative fiction, which resonates with trends we are seeing in publishing.”
The finalist will be named at the beginning of March.