Introducing the Inagural Starshine and Clay Fellows

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Cave Canem and the EcoTheo Collective are pleased to announce that Gregory Pardlo has selected Michael Frazier, Asmaa Jama, Oak Morse, and Ashunda Norris for the inaugural Starshine and Clay Fellowship. The fellowship provides financial and development support to emerging Black poets, and fundraising opportunities for Cave Canem. The initiative is named in honor of Cave Canem elder Lucille Clifton (“won’t you celebrate with me”).

About selecting the cohort of fellows, Gregory Pardlo says, “It was an honor to explore this incredible array of voices and styles. These poets herald a lush and exuberant new generation of poetry steeped in the traditions of black excellence.”

Recipients of this year’s fellowship will receive $500, a featured reading, and a travel stipend and lodging to attend the upcoming Wonder in Wyoming, a literary festival that will take place in Jackson, Wyoming July 9-11. In addition, they will receive a one-on-one consultation with the final judge, and master classes and other opportunities provided by Cave Canem.

Finalists include Rosa Castellano, Marvin Hodges, Sania Thomas, and Semein Washington. Work from these poets will be featured in the upcoming summer issue of EcoTheo Review.

Submissions for the 2022 Starshine and Clay Fellowship will open this fall or early 2022.

Read more about the inaugural cohort of fellows here:

Michael Frazier is a poet and educator living in central Japan. He graduated from NYU, where he was the 2017 poet commencement speaker & a co-champion of CUPSI. He’s performed at Nuyorican Poets Café, Lincoln Center, and Gallatin Arts Festival, among other venues. His poetry has been honored with Tinderbox’s 2020 Brett Elizabeth Jenkins Poetry Prize, honorable mentions for both RHINO’s Editor’s Prize and COUNTERCLOCK’s Emerging Writer Award, and Pushcart Prize and Best New Poets nominations. His poems appear in Poetry Daily, The Offing, Cream City Review, and elsewhere. He’s thankful for the organizations that have generously supported his writing including Callaloo, The Watering Hole, The Seventh Wave, and Brooklyn Poets. Michael is passionate about anime, R&B music, and, most importantly, the power of Christ to change lives. Currently, he’s facilitating a biweekly zoom poetry book club open to the public. Message @fraziermichael to join.

Asmaa Jama is a Danish-born Somali artist, poet, and co-founder of Dhaqan Collective, a feminist art collective. They have been published in print and online in places like Ambit, ANMLY, and The Good Journal. Asmaa’s work has been translated into French, Swahili, Somali, Spanish, and Portuguese. Most recently they were shortlisted for Brunel African Poetry Prize. Asmaa is an inaugural alumnus of the Obsidian Foundation.

Oak Morse lives in Houston, Texas, where he teaches creative writing and performance, and leads a youth poetry troop, the Phoenix Fire-Spitters. He was the winner of the 2017 Magpie Award for Poetry in Pulp Literature, a finalist for the 2020 Witness Literary Award, and a semi-finalist for the 2020 Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry. He has received fellowships from Brooklyn Poets and Twelve Literary Arts. He is a Houston Texans’ Stars in The Classroom recipient, a Pushcart Prize nominee, and a Warren Wilson MFA candidate. Oak’s work has appeared in Strange Horizons, PANK, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Nimrod, Cosmonaut Avenue, and Solstice, among others.

Ashunda Norris is an award-winning filmmaker, feminist, archivist and poet living in Los Angeles. Her honors include fellowships from Cave Canem, the New York State Summer Writer’s Institute and a residency at The Lemon Tree House. Ashunda’s writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Fence, [PANK], Trampoline, La Presa, Bayou Magazine, and elsewhere. Her most recent film work, MINO: A Diasporic Myth, has screened nationally and internationally including in Amsterdam, Berlin and Nairobi, Kenya. The artist is a proud alumna of Paine College and Howard University. She holds MFAs in both Poetry and Screenwriting. Born and raised in the heart of rural, red clay Georgia, Ashunda loves hot water cornbread, obscure cinema, stargazing, the ocean and celestial Sirius.