HEADS-UP MY FELLOW CALIFORNIANS: PEN America Emerging Voices Fellowships L.A.


“Arts and culture are inextricably linked to our humanity,” said Nashormeh Lindo, California Arts Council Chair. “They serve as a universal touchpoint for understanding and addressing our societal issues—dismantling inequity, healing trauma, reframing justice, inspiring truth and shaping futures.”

This week the California Arts Council announced a grant award of $18,000 to PEN America LA to support its Emerging Voices Fellowships offering literary mentorship to new writers isolated from the literary establishment.

“Emerging Voices is grateful to receive support from the California Arts Council, allowing us to continue our decades-long mission to enrich and diversify the literary community in Los Angeles and beyond at a critical time for writers and their stories,” Michelle Franke, Executive Director of PEN America LA.

City of Los Angeles flag

Local Impact supports community-driven arts projects for small and mid-sized arts organizations to foster equity, access, and opportunity in historically marginalized communities. The program centers the arts as a vehicle for building strong, healthy, vibrant, and resilient communities. Historically marginalized communities may include but are not limited to African and African American; Arab; Asian and Asian American; Latinx; Middle Eastern; Native American and Indigenous Californian; Pacific Islander; lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, transgender and gender-variant people; people with disabilities; women; low-income, rural, or immigrant and refugee communities.

PEN America LA is one of 190 grantees chosen for the Local Impact program. The award was featured as part of a larger announcement from the California Arts Council, with grant funds totaling a projected $24,508,541 for 2018-19, the highest investment in statewide arts programming since the 2000-01 fiscal year.

“Arts and culture are inextricably linked to our humanity,” said Nashormeh Lindo, California Arts Council Chair. “They serve as a universal touchpoint for understanding and addressing our societal issues—dismantling inequity, healing trauma, reframing justice, inspiring truth and shaping futures.”

The mission of the California Arts Council, a state agency, is to advance California through the arts and creativity. The Council is committed to building public will and resources for the arts; fostering accessible arts initiatives that reflect contributions from all of California’s diverse populations; serving as a thought leader and champion for the arts; and providing effective and relevant programs and services.

Members of the California Arts Council include: Chair Nashormeh Lindo, Vice Chair Larry Baza, Juan Devis, Jodie Evans, Kathleen Gallegos, Jaime Galli, Donn K. Harris, and Louise McGuinness. Learn more at www.arts.ca.gov.


PEN.org logo

PEN America has joined forces with the former PEN Center USA in California as one nationwide organization united under the PEN America banner. Now with 7,000 members coast-to-coast, PEN is an even stronger force to defend against looming threats to open discourse and a free press, to stand with writers and creators who face persecution, and to celebrate literary excellence both established and emerging. The PEN America Los Angeles office, led by Executive Director Michelle Franke, remains a vital hub for carrying on established programs and expanding advocacy in defense of free expression worldwide and other new initiatives.

This post courtesy of PEN America and the California Arts Council.  Illustrations are in the public domain.


Recent in digital publications: 
* Four poemsI Am Not a Silent Poet
* Remembering Mom, HerStry
* Three poems, Levure littéraire
Upcoming in digital publications:
“Over His Morning Coffee,” Front Porch Review

A homebound writer, poet, and former columnist and associate editor of a regional employment newspaper, my work has been featured widely in print and digital publications including: Ramingo’s Porch, Vita Brevis Literature, Connotation Press, The Bar None Group, Salamander Cove, I Am Not a Silent Poet, The Compass Rose and California Woman. I run The Poet by Day, an info hub for poets and writers and am the founding/managing editor of The BeZine.

“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton


California tapestry, a poem

“Soon it got dusk, a grapy dusk, a purple dusk over tangerine groves and long melon fields; the sun the color of pressed grapes, slashed with burgundy red, the fields the color of love and Spanish mysteries.” Jack Kerouac, On the Road

California ~
A tapestry
stitched from turquoise seas
and flaxen hills
threaded with
the twists and turns
of fault lines
and mad rivers,
redwood forests and
citrus groves
shot with yellow and orange
The skies are woven with
fuchsia at sunrise
At dusk ripe apricot
tumbles across raw umber earth
In Napa Valley
the geometry of vineyards
is neatly plotted

© 2017 (rewritten 2019), Jamie Dedes  



Off-subject but compelled to post …The Many Moods of Grandkitty

Gypsy Rose Grandkitty
Gypsy Rose Grandkitty

Gretchen Del Rio is a terrific California artist who finds her inspiration in nature and animals. Some of you will have noticed that thanks to Gretchen’s generosity, I sometimes use her work to illustrate my poems. Gretchen’s Native American spirit animals are the finest and I am enamoured of them.

“The paintings are from my heart and I always fall in love with the subject. I believe that we are all connected and, if an image touches you, it is because we all have the same heart even though our paths may be different.” Gretchen Del Rio

Recently Gretchen painted my grandkitty, Gypsy, in three of her many moods. Some of you know Gypsy from The Cat’s Meow. Though she hasn’t blogged for a while, her posts are still up for everyone to enjoy. She may  get back to blogging one of these days; but currently her plate is full to brimming while she organizes the CitySon Philosopher and the Girl from New Mexico in their new house in a different city. She takes her familial obligations seriously.

Gypsy – like most cats – is at home with writers. She expresses her critical opinion by sleeping on good manuscripts and coughing up furr balls on bad ones. In fine feline tradition, she likes to play the muse posing variously as lap blanket, printer cozy, keyboard duster, desk trasher and in much the same spirit apparently as Ray Bradbury’s cat  – a paper weight.

“I have my favorite cat, who is my paperweight, on my desk while I am writing.” Ray Bradbury

Here is Gypsy through Gretchen Del Rio’s eyes:

'GYPSY' 3 300 E

'GYPSY' 2 300 E'GYPSY' 1 300 E

© 2013, original watercolor paintings, Gretchen Del Rio, Gretchen Del Rio.com

© Gypsy photograph, Karen Fayeth, Oh Fair New Mexico

This is post was pre-scheduled.