These four writers will spend the year crafting reversible poems of migration; bridging immigration, love and violence in fiction; chronicling a survivor’s journey through fragmentation; and telling a family history of sovereignty and colonialism.
January 8, 2020
The Asian American Writers’ Workshop is devoted to creating, publishing, developing and disseminating creative writing by Asian Americans, and to providing an alternative literary arts space at the intersection of migration, race, and social justice. Our fellowships materially improve the lives of emerging writers of color through an innovative mix of re-granting, publication, and career development. Through our fellowships, we aim to nurture writers, activists, and intellectuals so they can dream a new American mythology beyond segregation, immigrant exclusion, and Islamophobia.
The Margins Fellowship is an opportunity for emerging Asian American poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers to establish a home for their work on the Asian American Writers’ Workshop’s online magazine The Margins, receive guidance and support for their careers, and build community with fellow writers at AAWW.
This year through the Margins Fellowship we have the privilege to support four writers who will develop a body of work in fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction around a project they have proposed. Each will receive a $5,000 grant, publication opportunities in The Margins, residency time at the Millay Colony for the Arts, writing space at AAWW’s offices in the Flatiron, and guidance and mentorship from writers and editors.
These four writers will spend the year crafting reversible poems of melancholy and migration; bridging immigration, political ambition, love & violence in fiction; chronicling a survivor’s journey through fragmentation and erasure; and telling a family history of land, sovereignty and colonialism.
We’re excited to announce our 2020 fellows. Read about them below, and follow their work in The Margins.
Joseph Lee is a Chinese American and Japanese American nonfiction writer and teacher. Born and raised in Massachusetts, he is a member of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) on Martha’s Vineyard. Joseph now lives in Manhattan and is a graduate of the MFA program in nonfiction at Columbia University. He has written essays for publications including Tin House, Catapult, and Electric Literature. In 2016, he received the Wampanoag Heritage Scholarship from the Cuttyhunk Island Writer’s Residency.
Joseph’s writing focuses on issues of culture, identity, land, and belonging. He is working on a book that uses the story of his family’s seasonal business on Martha’s Vineyard to investigate conflicts over land and sovereignty, the enduring legacy of colonialism, and the complicated relationship between identity and community. During his time as a Margins Fellow, Joseph also hopes to find new ways to explore the relationship between Asian identity and indigeneity.
You can find Joseph on Twitter @josephvlee.
Emily Lee Luan
Emily Lee Luan is a Taiwanese American poet and essayist from Massachusetts. A recipient of fellowships from Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Community of Writers, Art Farm, and the Fine Arts Work Center, she holds a BA from Middlebury College and an MFA in Poetry from Rutgers University-Newark, where she now teaches. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Best New Poets (2019), The Offing, The Margins, Washington Square Review, The Rumpus, PANK, Grist, among others. As a writer, she is interested in procedural poetics and the act of translation—translating emotion into language, retelling history, and investigating the space between Mandarin Chinese and English.
This year, Emily will continue work on a full-length manuscript, which involves practice in the “reversible poem,” a centuries-old tradition in Chinese poetry. She seeks to mimic the syntactic feel of reading a reversible poem in Chinese, but in English, in order to examine the circularity of negative affect, melancholy, and migration.
You can find Emily on Twitter at @_emilyluan.
Sarah Thankam Mathews
Sarah Thankam Mathews was born in India, grew up in Oman, and arrived in the United States at seventeen. She was a 2019 Rona Jaffe Fellow in fiction at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, and has been published in The Kenyon Review, AGNI, and Buzzfeed Reader. She’s interested in migration, the lives of women, politics, and power.
During her time as a Margins Fellow, she hopes to become better acquainted with the city’s POC and queer literary communities and complete two longform fiction projects. One is a collection of stories, the other a novel that explores the meeting points of immigration, political ambition, love, and violence.
You can find Sarah on Twitter at @smathewss.
Emperatriz Ung is a Chinese-Colombian writer, game designer, & educator from the American Southwest. Her work predominantly explores mental health, generational trauma, and disability studies. She earned her MFA in game design from the Tisch School of the Arts. She holds her BA in English from the University of New Mexico, and her MA in English Literature from Georgetown University, where she was a fellow at the Lannan Center for Poetics & Social Justice.
Emperatriz experiments with form in the creative nonfiction genre through fragmentation. She frequently uses erasure & redaction on emails, court documents, OED entries, and photographs to create poems that are weaved through narrative. During her time as a Margins Fellow, she will continue work on her book-length project that chronicles her journey as a survivor of abuse, a teen parent, a witness testifying for a criminal trial, and an inpatient in psychiatric units.
In her fellowship year, Emperatriz looks to contribute to local arts activism communities, with future plans to showcase the creative work of those who face cultural barriers & geographical isolation.
You can find Emperatriz on Twitter at @mprtrzng.
2020 Readers and Judges
Emily Jungmin Yoon