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Black Mountain Institute announces incoming fellows

Updated July 9, 2020 - 11:08 am

The Black Mountain Institute and The Believer magazine have announced BMI’s 2020-21 Shearing fellows.

The fellows — a short story writer and translator, an essayist, an essayist/educator and a poet — will live in Las Vegas during their fellowships in the coming academic year, participating in BMI and Believer programs and contributing to Southern Nevada’s cultural landscape and literary life.

The new fellows are:

— Bonnie Chau​ (fall 2020), from Southern California, is author of the 2018 short story collection “All Roads Lead to Blood.” She earned a master of fine arts degree in fiction and translation from Columbia University and has received fellowship and residency support from Kundiman, Art Farm Nebraska, the American Literary Translators Association, Vermont Studio Center and the Millay Colony.

— Megan Stielstra​ (fall 2020) is the author of three essay collections: “The Wrong Way to Save Your Life​,” “O​nce I Was Cool” and ​“Everyone Remain Calm.​” Her work has appeared in “Best American Essays​,” The N​ew York Times​, ​The Chicago Tribune,​ ​Chicago Reader,​ ​T​he Believer, Longreads​, Buzzfeed Reader and ​The Rumpus. She’s a member of Chicago’s 2nd Story storytelling company and has told stories for NPR, Radio National Australia, the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Goodman Theatre.

— Jordan Kisner (spring 2021) wrote “Thin Places: Essays from In Between” and essays and reviews that have been published in ​The Atlantic,​ ​The New York Times Magazine​ and ​The Guardian​. “Las Marthas,” a feature story that appeared in The Believer, was nominated for a National Magazine Award. In 2016, she won a Pushcart Prize and had an essay featured in “Best American Essays 2016.” She holds a master of fine arts degree from Columbia University, where she teaches creative writing.

— Sally Wen Mao​ (spring 2021) is the author of “Mad Honey Symposium” and “Oculus​: Poems,” which was named one of ​Time’s 100 must-read books of 2019. She has won a Pushcart Prize, and her work has been published or is slated to be published in Harper’s Bazaar, Poetry, Guernica, Tin House, PEN America and The Kenyon Review​.

During their residences in Las Vegas, the fellows will — through a partnership of BMI and the Rogers Foundation — live at The Lucy, a downtown arts complex.

A hallmark of the Shearing program is that it’s a “working fellowship,” according to BMI, in which fellows engage with the community through projects, readings and presentations. However, the realities of the coronavirus pandemic will require a few alterations this year.

For example, virtual undertakings probably will play a greater-than-usual role in this year’s programming, said Sara Ortiz, program director for BMI and The Believer.

“We’re also being very strategic and very careful about how we work with our fellows,” Ortiz said. “So we will not be gathering in public as we used to. We still will maintain readings and workshops, but moving to Zoom.

“But the university is our backbone. We still want to maintain a connection with the community, with Las Vegas.”

In fact, “we were open to having fellowships (conducted) in a remote capacity,” through virtual programs, Ortiz said, but all of the incoming fellows have chosen to move to Las Vegas for their fellowships.

Contact John Przybys at jprzybys@reviewjournal.com. Follow @JJPrzybys on Twitter.

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