Poetry Center grant will promote literary diversity

By Arbela Capas

Feb. 26, 2018

The Cleveland State University Poetry Center received a grant through the Cleveland Foundation and Anisfield-Book Awards in Nov. 2017 to put in place a fellowship for a postgraduate student.
“It’s the first fellowship of its kind, nationally,” said Jeff Karem, chair of the english department at Cleveland State.

The application opened on Dec. 31, when the poetry center’s website posted the job description. The fellowship is for two academic year residencies, which consist of nine months each.

The program has been specifically crafted so the selected fellow would be able to work, edit and publish with the poetry center and receive hands-on knowledge for work in publishing for their future career. Additionally, part of the fellow’s work will include a project developed to promote diversity and equity in the community.

“The goal is to break down the barriers that some people might see between arts and higher education and arts and the community,” Karem said.

Specifically, they hope to give the fellow hands-on knowledge in writing, editing and publishing.

Part of the application to the fellowship requires a written proposal for a specific outreach project. This can either be in the form of creating workshops, compiling anthologies or cultivating a form of literary project that will help local disadvantaged communities.

“We’re also hoping that this fellowship in one way or another addresses the long-standing lack of diversity in publishing,” said Caryl Pagel, director of the poetry center. “And so that could be also any number of things that either this person has some sort of underrepresented background or that their project involves some sort of project that is involving underrepresented voices in our community in Cleveland.”

Pagel and Karem are currently in the process of reviewing applicants for the fellowship—at least 80 have applied nationally and internationally. They plan to make a decision based on the experience and proposals sent in by each applicant, and aim to make an offer to someone in April 2018.

“We really wanted to keep it open ended, because we wanted these applicants to essentially pitch us their ideas,” Pagel said. “There’s so many wonderful ideas of how to get involved in the literary community, so we really wanted this person to be able to follow their own interests.”


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