Seven writers on their literary mentors.
Essays by Tayari Jones, Kevin Brockmeier, Crystal Wilkinson, Tift Merritt, Pia Z. Ehrhardt, Bronwen Dickey, and Jamey Hatley.
We celebrated our twenty-fifth anniversary year by doing what we’ve always done: publish the groundbreaking fiction—three excerpts from Jesmyn Ward’s National Book Award–winning novel, Sing, Unburied, Sing—essays, nonfiction, and poetry our readers have come to expect. Revisit or catch up on these highlights from 2017.
Notes on the songs from our 19th Southern Music Issue CD featuring Kentucky.
This faculty, to be attuned to one’s surroundings and the ways in which they’re unique, to be rooted in the local, to be of a certain place—no matter if one permanently leaves it, like Richard Hell, or stays forever, like Rachel Grimes—is an elemental theme running through the Oxford American’s 19th Southern Music Issue, devoted to Kentucky. It’s manifest in every one of the songs and stories gathered here: the Commonwealth produces a particularly grounded cast of artists, writers, and musicians.
In 2017, we’re featuring the music of Kentucky, highlighting some of the Commonwealth’s most enduring legends and local favorites while celebrating overlooked and lesser known musicians. With contributions from Sturgill Simpson, James Lindsey, Bill Monroe, Julia Perry, King Kong, and Loretta Lynn, this 27-track compilation includes songs from 1927 to the present.
Yesterday, the Washington Post’s Book World editor, Ron Charles, applauded the Oxford American’s Spring 2017 issue (which hits newsstands today) and joined us in celebrating the magazine’s twenty-fifth anniversary. “Here’s to the next 25 years of great writing and striking photography from a tough magazine that refuses to fade away,” Charles writes, labeling the OA a “regional magazine that defies the regional label,” which we take as the highest compliment.
When is the deadline? Your application must be submitted prior to midnight EST on March 24, 2018.
Is there an age limit? No.
Is there an application fee? We ask for a $30 application fee at the time of submission, which will help us cover the administrative costs associated with the prize.
When does the Fellowship begin? The Fellowship begins September 4 and runs until May 31. The Oxford American Jeff Baskin Writing Fellow is asked to remain in residency in the Little Rock/North Little Rock area during the entire fellowship’s term.
I’m not a U.S. citizen. Am I eligible for this fellowship? Applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent legal residents of the United States.
I already have readings scheduled in other cities during the Fellowship’s term. Will I be allowed to go? Professional travel (and necessary personal travel) is supported with time away, once approved. Holidays are also observed according to the Oxford American employee handbook.
Do you provide housing and a stipend? Yes.
How accessible is the Oxford American office? The Oxford American office is an open concept workspace on the second floor, and is fitted with a stair lift, but no elevator. We will provide additional accommodations or an alternative workspace should the Fellow need them, and will work with the fellow to arrange any necessary accommodations once the selection process is complete.
Will I receive the entire $10,000 stipend at once? No. You can expect to receive $1000 upfront to cover the relocation expenses you will incur in late August and $1000 at the beginning of every month to cover your basic living expenses while in residency.
Will the Oxford American take taxes out of my stipend? No. You will need to plan ahead to manage your own tax contributions.
Do I need a car? The Little Rock/North Little Rock area has a reasonably good bus system, as well as a trolley system that moves between the downtowns of Little Rock and North Little Rock. The Oxford American office and your apartment will be possible to connect using public transit; however, the area is not walkable. We advise you to bring a car whenever possible.
May I bring a spouse, partner, or child? Yes.
What can I expect for housing? The apartment is clean, well lit, and furnished, basic utilities (including wifi), and basic kitchen utensils. At the Oxford American office you will be given a computer with which to work; however, the Fellow will want to bring her or his own personal computer if she or he uses one to write at home.
My spouse/partner is a writer/artist and wants studio space. Will you provide it? No. We will be happy, however, to make available our neighborhood real estate contacts. It is common for our interns to find apartments and studios at affordable prices.
Will you accept a hybrid-genre writing sample for the application? A part of the mission of The Oxford American Jeff Baskin Writers Fellowship is to create a unique level of support for the next generation of great creative nonfiction writers. We define creative nonfiction as broadly as we know how (literary journalism, memoir, reportage, criticism, or the lyric essay), but this fellowship only supports manuscripts written in prose that is rooted in fact.
I am not from the South. Am I still eligible? Yes. We do not require that you be from the South to receive the Fellowship. Many of our most award-winning essays are penned by writers who are not from the South, but who instead carry a unique vantage and an impeccable ethos as they approach “the complexity and vitality” of the South’s story. The Oxford American’s perfect recipient for the Fellowship is an application that puts forward the best creative nonfiction writing sample, in terms of literary quality and original vision, while also sharing a commonality with the Oxford American’s mission. However, literary quality is our first criteria in selection.
Do I list my name on my writing sample? No. Your name must not appear anywhere on any of your application’s documents. Applications with identifying information will be disqualified.
I have already published two books of poems but not a book of nonfiction. Am I still eligible? Yes. The Fellowship supports the writing of a debut book in creative nonfiction, but writers who have published in other genres are still eligible.
I have published a Kindle single in creative nonfiction. Am I still eligible? Yes. Given their length, the Kindle single is considered the digital equivalent of a chapbook, not a full-length book.
I don’t have a home computer. May I submit my application in hardcopy via snail mail? No. Only online submissions are accepted.
The book I want to finish while on Fellowship is under contract. Am I still eligible? Yes. Your proposed project may be represented and/or under contract, but it must be your first book of creative nonfiction.
What can I expect for the editorial fellowship? The Fellow can expect to acquire skills in pitch development, professional editing, literary and arts curation, digital publishing, and the business of running an arts nonprofit and magazine. You will also gain access to the Oxford American’s significant network of literary contacts.
I write in the mornings. Can I expect the apprenticeship hours to flex around my writing needs? Within reason, yes. As long as you reliably contribute approximately 20 hours a week toward your fellowship, we will do whatever we can to accommodate your writing schedule as our priority. We define “approximately 20 hours a week” as a flex schedule that on average equals 20 hours a week but takes into balance the at-deadline needs of both the Fellow and the magazine.
Am I eligible to publish in the Oxford American while I am a Fellow? Yes. We encourage all of our editorial staff to be active contributors to the Oxford American, both in print and online.
I understand the Fellow will contribute to the local community while in residency. What is expected? The Oxford American prioritizes your writing time and your editorial fellowship over any other obligations or invitations; however, we encourage applicants interested in being active members of the Oxford American community. The only social obligations we require you attend during your residency are your start-of-Fellowship welcome party and ACANSA Arts Festival community workshop and your end-of-Fellowship reading and dinner.
How are the Fellows selected? The Oxford American editors select from the application pool a shortlist of 5-7 manuscripts for consideration by the final judges. All applications in the shortlist will receive consideration by all three of the final judges. The judges collaborate in jury to select the prize recipient. The entire reading process is conducted blind.
When will I find out if I receive the Fellowship? The recipient will be notified by the first week of May and a press release will be published shortly thereafter.
If I am a finalist but not the recipient, will I be announced in the press release? No. The Oxford American will only announce the incoming Fellow.
If I am rejected this year, am I eligible to apply again? As long as you still meet the basic eligibility requirements, you are welcome to apply for as many years as you like.