NYU's Creative Writing Program will host the 2016 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Awards Reading on Fri., Sept. 16, 7 p.m. at the Lillian Vernon Creative Writers House.

The Rona Jaffe Foundation
The New York University Creative Writing Program will host the 2016 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Awards Reading on Fri., Sept. 16, 7 p.m. at the Lillian Vernon Creative Writers House, located at 58 W. 10th Street (between 5th and 6th Aves.).

The New York University Creative Writing Program will host the 2016 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Awards Reading on Fri., Sept. 16, 7 p.m. at the Lillian Vernon Creative Writers House, located at 58 W. 10th Street (between 5th and 6th Aves.).

This year’s winners are: Lina María Ferreira Cabeza-Vanegas, Danielle Geller, Jamey Hatley, Ladee Hubbard, Airea D. Matthews, and Asako Serizawa. Celebrating its 22nd year, the Rona Jaffe Foundation provides support to women writers in the early stages of their writing careers.

The event is free and open to the public, with seating on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, call 212.998.8816 or visit www.cwp.fas.nyu.edu. Subways: F, L, M (14th Street/6th Avenue); 1 (Christopher Street); A, B, C, D, E, F, M (West 4th Street).

Biographies of the 2016 Award Winners:

Lina María Ferreira Cabeza-Vanegas (Nonfiction) is completing her first book, Don’t Come Back, to be published by Mad River Books, an imprint of The Ohio State University Press, in January 2017. A collection of essays, short stories, and translations, it navigates the Colombian civil conflict with a personal investigation into her own life, family and mixed heritage. Ferreira received her B.A. from Brigham Young University and M.F.A.s in literary translation and creative nonfiction from the University of Iowa. Her essays have appeared in Hotel Amerika, Brevity, and Fourth Genre, among others. She is currently a visiting assistant professor of creative nonfiction at The Ohio State University and the executive nonfiction editor of Drunken Boat, an international journal of literature and the arts. She is working on a novel about the devil and a second nonfiction book titled The Former New Kingdom of Granada. She will use her Writer’s Award to take a research trip to Colombia and to cover living expenses over the next two years to be able to complete these two nonfiction projects. She lives in Columbus, Ohio.

Danielle Geller (Nonfiction) is working on a memoir called Dog Flowers. Geller received her B.A. from Shippensburg University, her M.S. in library science from Simmons College, and is finishing her M.F.A. at the University of Arizona, Tucson. In her unpublished essay, “Annotating the First Page of the First Navajo-English Dictionary,” she uses her skills as a researcher and archivist to investigate the history of the incomplete Navajo-English Dictionary published in 1958 by weaving through it the story of her mother and her people. She will use this essay as the genesis for her second book. Geller plans to use her Writer’s Award to help supplement her income in her final year of graduate school so she can focus on these projects. She will also take several research trips to the Navajo reservation to interview her mother’s family and friends. She lives in Tucson, Arizona.

Jamey Hatley (Fiction) is working on her first novel, The Dream-Singers. It is the story of twins, one born at the moment Martin Luther King, Jr., delivers his final speech and the other at the moment King dies. After the devastation of the assassination, the people in an all-black neighborhood of Memphis fixate on the babies as a symbol of hope. Their hope is short-lived when the boy twin dies under mysterious circumstances just three months later. Hatley has recently returned to her hometown of Memphis to care for her elderly parents. Her work has appeared in Callaloo, The Account, and Oxford American, among others. She has attended Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference for the past five years and is the recipient of a 2016 National Endowment for the Arts fellowship. She received her B.S. from the University of Tennessee, her M.A. in journalism from the University of Memphis, and her M.F.A. from Louisiana State University. Hatley plans to use her Writer’s Award to cover living expenses during the next year so she can write fulltime and complete her novel. She lives in Memphis, Tennessee.

Ladee Hubbard’s (Fiction) vibrant, smart, and funny first novel, The Talented Tenth, tells the story of the Ribkins family, each member of which is born with a unique talent. Riffing on Dubois’s famous essay, it is a road novel that combines elements of the picaresque and the noble quest. Hubbard’s work has appeared in the Beloit Fiction Journal, Crab Orchard Review, and others, and she has received fellowships from the Hambidge Center, the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop, and the Hurston/Wright Foundation. Hubbard received a B.A. from Princeton, an M.F.A. from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, a Ph.D. from UCLA, and most recently an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her Writer’s Award will allow her to take time off from teaching, pay for child care, and devote her full attention to completing her novel. She lives in New Orleans, Louisiana, with her husband and three children.

Airea D. Matthews’s (Poetry) first collection of poems, simulacra, received the 2016 Yale Series of Younger Poets Award (Yale University Press, 2017). Her work has appeared in Best American Poets 2015, American Poet, Four Way Review, The Indiana Review, and Michigan Quarterly Review, among others. She has received fellowships from Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Kresge Literary Arts, Callaloo, Cave Canem, and will be a James Merrill House resident next summer. She received her B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, her M.P.A. from the University of Michigan, and her M.F.A. from the University of Michigan Helen Zell Writers’ Program, where she is now the assistant director. Matthews is working on her second collection, which explores the theme of poverty. Matthews will use her Writer’s Award to take a leave from work and pay for household expenses and child care so she can work on her new manuscript fulltime. She lives in Detroit, Michigan, with her husband and four children.

Asako Serizawa (Fiction) is working on a collection of interconnected short stories, Allegiance, that spans over a century and traces four generations of a family fractured and fragmented by the Second World War. Serizawa was born in Japan and spent her pre-college life in Tokyo, Singapore, and Jakarta. She received her B.A. from Tufts University, her M.A. from Brown University, and her M.F.A. from Emerson College. Her work has appeared in Witness, The Hudson Review, The Antioch Review, and elsewhere. She has received two O. Henry Prizes, a Pushcart Prize, and the Glenna Luschei Prairie Schooner Award for her short fiction. A recent fiction fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, she has also received support from the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation and Vermont Studio Center. Serizawa hopes to use her Writer’s Award to make a research trip to Japan and write fulltime with the aim of completing her collection over the next several months. She lives with the writer Matthew Modica in Boston, Massachusetts.


The Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Awards program was created by celebrated writer Rona Jaffe (1931-2005) to identify and support women writers of exceptional talent in the early stages of their writing careers. Grants of $30,000 are given to writers of fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry to make writing time available and for such specific purposes as child care, research and related travel costs. Nominations of candidates are solicited from writers, editors, critics, and other literary professionals who are likely to encounter women writers of unusual talent. A selection committee is appointed each year to recommend awards from among the nominees. Direct applications and unsolicited nominations are not accepted by the Foundation. Since the program began in 1995, the Foundation has awarded over $2 million to emergent women writers. For more information, visit www.ronajaffefoundation.org.

ABOUT RONA JAFFE: Rona Jaffe (1931-2005) established The Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Awards program in 1995. It is the only national literary awards program of its kind dedicated to supporting women writers exclusively. Since the program began, the Foundation has awarded grants to over 100 women. Ms. Jaffe was the author of sixteen books, including Class Reunion, Family Secrets, The Road Taken, and The Room-Mating Season (2003). Her 1958 best-selling first novel, The Best of Everything, was reissued by Penguin in 2005.

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