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How writers can be Emerging Voices in Los Angeles

Penemergingvoices2012

PEN Center USA has one of the few programs in Los Angeles designed to give new writers a leg up: Emerging Voices. It's not for people with an MFA or for writing professors. It's not for people who work in publishing. It's not for authors who've already published books. Who it is for: writers living in Southern California who have just begun to build their writing resumes, who are ready to focus on a specific work -- and who have a killer writing sample.

The application period for the 2013 Emerging Voices Fellowship is now open. The deadline is Aug. 15.

In the eight-month program, PEN provides each author with a $1,000 stipend, tuition for two courses at the UCLA Extension Writers Program, master classes, a writing mentor, and hosted Q&A evenings with Los Angeles authors. As part of the program, the fellows are asked to devote 25 volunteer hours to a literary cause. 

In January, the 2012 class of Emerging Voices was introduced at a party and reading. In the photograph above, from left to right, they are Nathan Go, Amanda Fletcher, Sacha A. Howells, Chelsea Hodson, Jonathan Alfi and Rayne Gasper. Each lives in the L.A. area and is at work on a project they hope will become a book.

Helping them is a stellar group of mentors, which changes every year. The 2012 mentors are novelist Ron Carlson, who heads the creative writing program at UC Irvine; National Magazine Award-winning journalist and novelist Ben Ehrenreich; Guggenheim Award winner Richard Lange ("Dead Boys"); Jillian Lauren, whose memoir "Some Girls" was a bestseller; novelist Alex Espinoza ("Still Water Saints"); and Victoria Patterson, whose short story collection "Drift" was a finalist for the Story Prize.

One unusual aspect of the program is that it provides a class with a professional voice coach, so the Emerging Writers can learn the art of reading in public. At the end of the term, they get to show off their new skills at a group reading. Look for that later this year.

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 -- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: The 2012 Emerging Voices writers. Credit: Casey Curry / PEN Center USA

 
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