Last year's winners of the Emerging Writer Fellowships, Tanya Olson (left) and Karina Borowicz (right), will be reading at the Center on Sunday, October 4 at 2 p.m. and Sunday, October 11 at 2 p.m. Olson and Borowicz will appear with Nancy Naomi Carlson and Ann MacLaughlin respectively. Awarded each year to two emerging writers, the Fellowships offer the opportunity to read at the Center and receive a cash honorarium.
Tanya Olson lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, and is a lecturer in English at University of Maryland Baltimore County. Her first book, Boyishly, was published by YesYes Books in 2013 and received a 2014 American Book Award. In 2010, she won a Discovery/Boston Review prize and was named a 2011 Lambda Fellow by the Lambda Literary Foundation.
Olson emphasizes the importance of building a system of support. “I was a long-standing member of a writing group in Durham, the Black Socks, and I learned so much as a beginning writer from the other poets in the group,” she said. “I also have a partner who comes to readings, doesn't bat an eye when I get up in the middle of the night to write things down, and is generally very patient with my moody poet tendencies.”
The second winner this year, Karina Borowicz, is the author of two poetry collections, Proof (Codhill Press, 2014) and The Bees Are Waiting (Marick Press, 2012), which won the Eric Hoffer Award for Poetry and was named a Must-Read by the Massachusetts Center for the Book. Her poems have appeared widely in journals and have been featured on the web and in radio. Trained as an historian, Borowicz also holds an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of New Hampshire. She makes her home in the Connecticut River Valley of Western Massachusetts.
Borowicz works at Springfield College’s writing and resource center for returning students. She also occasionally leads poetry workshops as a writer-in-the-schools, but most of her career, she earned a living teaching English as a Second Language, which also allowed her to travel. “Before that, I worked as a baker, cook, and caterer,” she says. “I’m pretty serious about food.”
“Throughout all these various jobs and careers, I always made time for writing, trying to fit it in during spare moments, often in the evening or even during a lunch break,” she went on to say. “These days, however, writing time is my top priority and I make sure to put in at least an hour first thing in the morning, five days a week, before the world starts making its demands.”
As someone who has had to eke out writing time for many years, Borowicz has good advice for other emerging writers. “Read widely and deeply in your chosen genre, which will not only provide valuable lessons in craft, but also sharpen your instincts about what works and what doesn’t,” she said. But don’t hole up as a bookworm all the time. “Be sure to engage with the world in a concrete way, because we experience the world through our senses and the best writers know that. Tolstoy took up shoemaking. Bake bread, learn bookbinding, keep bees, grow vegetables. Get your hands dirty—your writing will be the richer for it.”
Requirements for the Emerging Writers Fellowship include the publication of one or two full-length single-author books in a single genre and no more than three books published to their credit (including as editors of anthologies) in any genre. Keep your eyes peeled for our official announcement of this year's winners coming soon!