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Mellon Foundation, Flamboyán Foundation open 2nd call for writers’ fellowship

The Mellon Foundation and the Flamboyán Foundation’s Arts Fund announced a call for applicants — including emerging and established Puerto Rican writers of poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and children’s literature — to be part of the second cohort for the Letras Boricuas Fellowship.

The fellowship was designed to “identify, elevate, and amplify” the voices of Puerto Rican writers on the island and across the diaspora in the U.S. mainland who have continued their practice while enduring natural disasters, political turmoil, and limited funding opportunities, the nonprofits stated.

The deadline for applications is June 13, 2022 at 4 p.m., and fellows will be announced in November 2022.

The fellowship’s second cohort of 20 writers will join the first cohort and receive unrestricted grants of $25,000 each. Fellows from both cohorts will be invited to a gathering in Puerto Rico, tentatively scheduled for April 2023, that offers all 40 writers the opportunity to share their work, discuss their creative process, and share their experiences as Letras Boricuas fellows.

By providing writers with funding and flexibility, the fellowship aims to support Puerto Rico’s rich and historically under-resourced literary lineage, the nonprofits said.

“As a writer and a scholar, I do the work that I do because I feel called to it, but often with doubts as to its necessity, relevance, or importance. The Letras Boricuas fellowship is confirmation that there is value in the work and in the ideas. It helps me believe that my words can matter and it helps push me to keep thinking and writing,” said Amanda Hernández, poet and editor/co-director of La Impresora, who was part of the first Letras Boricuas cohort.

The Letras Boricuas Fellowship is part of both Mellon and Flamboyán’s ongoing commitment to sustaining and enriching the Puerto Rico’s vibrant arts and cultural ecosystem and the individuals who work within it.

Since 2018, the Mellon Foundation has invested more than $20 million as part of a multi-year initiative to address past underfunding in Puerto Rico and the US diaspora, urgent needs, and build sustainable artistic, educational, intellectual, cultural, and archival infrastructure for the future

The Letras Boricuas Fellowship furthers the Foundation’s commitment to ensuring the ideas and imaginations of all Puerto Ricans can be shared with a broader audience, organizers said.

“The community of writers in Puerto Rico has recently endured hurricanes, earthquakes, and political turmoil and has historically faced few opportunities for financial support and to share our important literary tradition with wide audiences,” said Carlos Rodríguez-Silvestre, executive director of Flamboyán Foundation Puerto Rico.

“At Flamboyán we cannot think of a better way to honor the rich heritage and diversity of Puerto Rican literature than creating a fellowship that allows writers to do what they do best,” he said.

The Flamboyán Foundation has worked through its Flamboyán Arts Fund initiative to “preserve, amplify, and strengthen” the arts in Puerto Rico.

In the past three years, the fund has committed more than $10 million and has provided critical support to more than 600 artists and 100 arts organizations.  

In 2020, the two foundations worked together in immediate response to the COVID-19 pandemic to establish a $1 million emergency relief fund to help alleviate the impact of the pandemic on the arts and culture sector in Puerto Rico, providing crucial support to 89 art organizations and 600 individual artists.

To be eligible for consideration for the Letras Boricuas Fellowship, writers must be 21 years or older at the time of application, be a current resident of Puerto Rico or the United States, and of Puerto Rican heritage.

Writers must work in poetry (including spoken word), fiction, creative nonfiction (e.g. memoir, personal essays, and related forms) and/or children’s literature, and demonstrate a history of publication. Only individual writers may apply. 

Fellows will be chosen through a two-step nomination, and selection process by committee members — comprising experienced writers and literary experts — selected by the Mellon Foundation and the Flamboyán Arts Fund.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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