submerging writer fellowship fear no lit

For writers who have the chops but lack the luck; who drown, who try, who try again; who try again so many times there might not be any tries left; who see writing as both a buoy and shark-bite—a boogie-board and an iceberg; who would love to attend AWP to meet the writers they admire but just can’t fucking afford it; who are sinking in the giant sea of the writing industry.

Applications are now closed

The 2017 Submerging Writer Fellowship

Winner: Angelica Maria Barraza

a photo of Angelica Maria Barraza

Angelica Maria Barraza is a writer, bruja, interventionist, lover. She is interested in narrative as a site for transgression and possibility. Questions that propel her creative process include: How does one enact profanation upon a text? How might storytelling be an act of reclamation? Of refusal? She holds an MFA from Naropa University and recently relocated to California to pursue a PhD in literature at UC Riverside.


Katie Burgess – Katie Burgess lives in South Carolina, where she does improv and is editor of Emrys Journal.

Melissa Dias-Mandoly – Melissa Dias-Mandoly lives in Pittsburgh with her cat, Catrick Bateman. She earned her BA in poetry and film at the University of Pittsburgh, where she twice won the undergraduate poetry award. Her work has been featured in Nat. Brut, Gesture, Hot Metal Bridge, PANK, Storm Cellar, and more. In 2017, she was a finalist for the Poetry Society of America Chapbook Fellowship. She works as an editor and designer at the University of Pittsburgh Press.

Verna Zafra-Kasala – Verna Zafra-Kasala was born in the Philippines but was raised and still lives in the Pacific island of Guam. She is an instructor at the University of Guam. Her work has appeared in Tayo Literary Magazine, Hawai’i Review, and Minerva Rising, among other publications.


Jaime Fountaine  |  Cade Leebron  |  LeConte Dill  |  Laura Budofsky Wisniewski  |  Angela Voras-Hills  |  Kristin Ginger

In 2017, FEAR NO LIT will pull one submerging writer out of the water and offer them:

– a chapbook (limited-edition print run of 50 copies)
– a launch party at AWP 18 (
reading featuring the winner & 3 finalists)
– $500 for AWP 18 expenses (travel, room)
– $500 to spend however they like, no strings attached (
maybe scuba gear?)

In addition, three finalists will receive complimentary registration to AWP 2018 in Tampa, FL.

You’re eligible if:

– you don’t have a book
you write your ass off
– you have won no major awards
you aren’t currently in an MFA/PhD program
you battle daily the barriers of luck, society, fate, a curse, the cosmos, some major setback, or all of the above

To apply:

In the body of an email, please provide the following information.

– Name & social media channels
– Do you have a book / are you in a writing program / have you won any major awards? (Y/N)
List five publications (link if possible)
– List five disappointing rejections you’ve received in the last calendar year (residency, program, fellowship, contest, publication)
– What makes you a submerging writer? (max 500 words)
– What do you do to engage with, support, and foster the literary community? (max 300 words)
– What is a mistake you’ve made as a writer, or a regret you have about writing? (max 300 words)
– What gives you hope? (max 300 words)

Attach a 10-page (max) writing sample as .doc, .docx or .pdf and email to fearnolit[at]


You can drown in any country. Please apply.

Go ahead and apply. Just realize that if it comes down to your application and another of equal quality, the fact that you have that micro-press chapbook might tip the scales in the opposite direction.

For real, we get it. Writers can struggle hard even in graduate programs. But, we’re trying to reach those writers who don’t have the potentially built-in community, financial support, and resources that academic programs offer.

As long as you’re out of school, apply.

Again, we get it. Everyone has mixed feelings about the beautiful beast that is the nation’s biggest writing conference. We’re looking for someone who’s eager to join the conversation and community IRL.

Hey, if you have the perfect story for why you’re a submerging writer, why you really-truly need this, but are in violation of either the book/award/program rule, go ahead and tell us what you’ve got. We don’t want to rule out the possibility of discovering the best submerging story out there. But seriously, your rationale better be ape-shit awesome.

2017 Judge

Jennifer Givhan is a Mexican-American poet from the Southwestern desert. She is the author of Landscape with Headless Mama (2015 Pleiades Editors’ Prize) and Protection Spell (2016 Miller Williams Series, University of Arkansas Press). Her chapbooks include Lifeline (Glass Poetry Press), The Daughter’s Curse (ELJ Editions), and Lieserl Contemplates Resurrection (dancing girl press). Her honors include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry, a PEN/Rosenthal Emerging Voices Fellowship, The Frost Place Latin@ Scholarship, The 2015 Lascaux Review Poetry Prize, The Pinch Poetry Prize, and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Best of the Net, Best New Poets, AGNI, Ploughshares, POETRY, TriQuarterly, Boston Review, Crazyhorse, Blackbird, and The Kenyon Review. She is Editor-in-Chief at Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and she lives with her family in New Mexico. Learn more about Jennifer at

Submissions close on August 31, 2017 at 12 PM CST. By October 1st, 10 semi-finalists will be selected and forwarded along to our judge. All applicants will be contacted at this time. By October 31st our judge will select 1 winner and 3 finalists. We will make an official announcement in early November. If you are interested in partnering or helping to sponsor the SWF, please email us at fearnolit[at]