Rhode Island Foundation offering $25,000 grants to local writers

Rhode Island writers who dream of having the resources to push their work to the next level have until Aug. 9 to apply for $25,000 fellowships from the Rhode Island Foundation. The grants are considered to be among the largest no-strings-attached awards available to authors in the United States.

The Foundation will award grants to as many as three emerging or mid-career writers through its Robert and Margaret MacColl Johnson Fellowship Fund. The awards are intended to free them to concentrate time on the creative process, focus on personal or professional development, expand their body of work and explore new directions.

 “This support will permit local writers to spend more time focusing on their work rather than trying to make ends meet. These fellowships reflect the importance our donors placed on nurturing the presence of practicing artists in the community,” said Jenny Pereira, the Foundation’s vice president of grants and community investments.

Previous recipients of writing fellowships include Sussy Santana, whose most recent book of poetry is “Poemas Domésticos,” Susannah Strong, who worked on a graphic novel and produced a body of shorter works; and Chrysanthemum Tran, who completed her first collection of poems and developed a poetry symposium.

According to Santana, her fellowship gave her more than just the resources to devote more time to writing.

“Being selected was a vote of confidence in my work as an artist. It was very humbling to know that other people believe in and support your creativity.  It opened my eyes to what was possible if you keep working hard on your dreams, and if you stay true to who you are as an artist,” said Santana.

Applicants must have been residents of Rhode Island for at least 12 months prior to the Aug. 9 deadline. High school students, college and graduate students who are enrolled in a degree-granting program and composers who have advanced levels of career achievement are not eligible.

Applicants will be judged on the quality of their work samples, their artistic development and their creative contribution to writing, as well as the potential of the fellowship to advance their career. Applications will be accepted from authors creating new original work in any genre.

Although the fellowships are unrestricted, recipients are expected to devote concentrated time to their art and to engage in activities that further their artistic growth. Examples include creating new work, training in technologies or techniques, purchasing equipment, travel, research and developing artistic endeavors.

The recipients will be selected by a panel of out-of-state jurors who are professional writers and editors. For more information about applying for a MacColl Johnson Fellowship, visit rifoundation.org.

Established in 2003, the MacColl Johnson fellowships rotate among writers, visual artists and composers on a three-year cycle. Over the years, the Foundation has awarded more than $1.2 million in fellowships.

Rhode Islanders Robert and Margaret MacColl Johnson were both dedicated to the arts all their lives. Mrs. Johnson, who died in 1990, earned a degree in creative writing from Roger Williams College when she was 70. Mr. Johnson invented a new process for mixing metals in jewelry-making and then retired to become a fulltime painter. Before he died in 1999, Johnson began discussions with the Foundation that led to the creation of the fellowships.


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