Current Fellows


Madi Cotton graduated in 2020 from St. Edward’s University with a Bachelor’s in Creative Writing and a minor in French. She worked as the Editor-in-Chief of the academic journal, a copy editor for the school newspaper, and an acquisition editor for the creative journal, where she also published 3 poems. She interned at Bright Sky Press, American Booksellers’ Association, and The Writing Barn among other places. She now works as the Development and Communications Associate at Writers in the Schools.



Keisha is a young, mixed-race artist from Kona, Hawai’i. She is happiest in her element, practicing anything creative, from painting and poetry to telling fantastical stories.



Autumn Duehr is a poet and performer who would describe being at the mic like breaking free. Her work aims to amplify the voices of those who are misunderstood because of mental health or societal standards. Autumn’s poetry shatters the barrier between trapped and free through her strong faith and spiritual testimony. When she is not writing, Autumn can be caught swimming in the ocean, playing guitar or wire wrapping crystals to make jewelry.


Danielle Bishop is currently attending the University of Houston studying English Literature. They’ve done work for UH’s own literary magazine, “Glass Mountain” and collaborative online effort, “Sunstroke Magazine.” Their work revolves around social and philosophical topics, as well as an active effort to make the most boring things, exciting. She was also born and raised in Houston, TX; something she takes great pride in.



Hannah Young is a junior studying English, Creative Writing, and anything else she can find time for at Rice University. Her work has been featured in R2: The Rice Review, her school’s undergraduate literary magazine, where she currently serves as Editor-in-Chief. She thinks science-fiction has an untapped potential to explore contemporary issues, and she uses it to investigate her Filipino-American identity (from a futuristic perspective, of course). When she isn’t writing, you can find her gaming, cooking, drinking coffee, and pondering her caffeine addiction.


Karen Okoroafor is a recent graduate from Rice University, where she studied Psychology and practiced creative writing in workshops and community events. While at Rice, she designed a student-taught course on spoken word poetry and served as a poetry editor for Rice University’s undergraduate literary magazine, The Rice Review.

She has previously been involved with WITS as a Creative Writing Camp teaching assistant, and as a finalist in the Space City Poetry Slam Series.

Karen’s work discusses Christian faith, responsibility, gratitude, and personal experiences through narratives, poems, and songs. In her free time, she enjoys singing, photography, and engaging in conversations in the community.


Abby is a senior studying English and sociology at Rice University. On campus, she’s Vice President of the English Undergraduate Association, Secretary for Rice Pride, as well as a part of the university’s literary magazine R2: The Rice Review. Among performing original spoken word for R2’s Open Mic Nights and Rice’s Critical Approach to the Vagina Monologues, she also starred in a shadow-cast production of Tommy Wiseau’s cult classic The Room. Her work tends to center her queerness and investment in reimagining the world around us through a blend of queer love stories and speculative fiction. She’s written short stories and poetry and is currently working on her first novel. In her free time, she likes to cuddle with her kitty Chickpea and draw meme collages.


emma k. shibley is a writer and poet putting down new roots in Atlanta, Georgia — ancestral land of the Muscogee Nation.

She is a grateful alum of Miami University’s creative writing program and the Los Angeles Review of Books publishing workshop. In fall 2021, she was a fellow at WritingxWriters Tomales Bay and joined the small press Really Serious Literature as assistant editor.

Emma now works as a writer/editor, teaching assistant, and paperboy, but she has also been (and hopes to be again) a musician, improviser, barista, and theatre-maker. You can be her friend on Twitter @marzipansy, and you can find her writing in Rogue Agent, archives of Miami University’s Inklings, and on


Isabella Neblett is an internationally published writer, five-time TEDx speaker, spoken-word poet, and student-activist. She primarily writes experimental nonfiction, Confessionalist poetry, docupoetics, spoken word poetry, and graphic memoirs that explore the intersection of social justice, mental health, and trauma alongside her life experiences. Since she was 13, Isabella has been orating TEDx talks on social justice issues for audiences such as United Nations Women representatives. She is currently a fourth-year undergraduate student pursuing her BA in creative writing, comparative literature, and peace studies at Hampshire College, where she is the recipient of an annual $18,000 merit scholarship Scribere Verum Est Award for writers who write and speak for truth and justice. Isabella was also awarded research grants totaling $3000 from Hampshire College for her self-designed creative writing and archival research project “Sexual Assault Narratives: A Docupoetics Exploration of Survivor Stories” on the #metoo movement using Harvard University’s Schlesinger Library’s #metoo Digital Media Collection. Her poetry and nonfiction have been published in Teen Ink, Edible Magazine Houston, Alloy Literary Magazine, Dreamers Creative Writing, Glass Mountain Literary Journal, and Persephone’s Daughters Literary Journal.


Past Fellows

Alinda: Alinda “Adam” Mac is a Vietnamese American poet, performer, and cowboy from Humble, Texas. Her work has been featured in Lue’s Poetry Hour, SAIC’s Mouth Magazine, and on Houston Public Media. She is currently pursuing a BFA in Writing at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, but if her career doesn’t work out, she and her father plan to open a noodle shop.


Yemima: PoeticQueen is a spoken word poet, writer, singer, and songwriter in Chicago, Illinois. She’s performed her work all over Chicago including places such as Navy Pier, Millenium Park, Columbia College Chicago, Young Chicago Authors, and Harold Washington Library. In early 2020, she competed as an individual poet in a poetry slam called Louder Than A Bomb and made it all the way to Quarterfinals. Her work has been published in Harness Magazine, The BlackGirlArchives, and on Vocal. She loves being a creative because she’s not only letting her voice be heard, she’s also a voice for the voiceless. Poetry has helped PoeticQueen to bring important topics into conversation such as racism, mental health, and abuse. It’s helped her realize that her words are powerful and that her voice matters.

Melinda: Melinda Mayden is a fiction writer who graduated from the University of Houston in May 2020. Her work explores the makeup of human identity and the variable facets and meanings of home. She won the Provost’s Prize in Fiction in 2019 and has been published in the University of Houston Magazine and The Bayou Review. She is passionate about many things, including the Oxford comma and cold brew coffee.

Haley: Haley Carr is a multifaceted artist from Dallas that creates as they feel. They study Creative Writing at the University of Houston, where they were apart of the 2020 CoogSlam team. They have participated in various slams spanning the Houston area and are well known throughout the open mic scene. When they aren’t writing, painting or doing something else with their hands, they’re probably making a playlist or being a menace to society. Haley’s work encompasses an array of emotions that often don’t have a singular face, and every piece they create is designed to be received by all.

Adriana: Adriana Salazar is a poet, organizer, and UH student from Houston, TX. Her work has been featured with Tintero Projects and UH CoogSlam, the University of Houston’s inaugural poetry organization. She is CoogSlam’s Open Mic Coordinator and a part of the core leadership team for Mutual Aid Houston- a BIPOC led collective centered on leading and boosting community aid efforts in the Houston area. In her spare time, Adriana can be found tending to her plants or in the gourmet cheese section at the closest Kroger. Adriana’s work intends to examine her relationships with sexuality, familial traumas, and the ever-personal yet nebulous concept of ‘Latinidad’.

Katerin: Katerin Paola Zapata is a creative writer from the University of Houston. She is an undergraduate intern at Arte Público Press where she works in the “Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage” program. She has worked on several digital projects related to recovering Latinx history and is currently working on a project based on Latinx cinema. She speaks from a Salvadoran-American perspective as she writes poems and short stories about God, generational trauma, and her life experiences. She spends her free time singing and is active in ministry.

Willow: Willow Naomi Curry is a writer and independent curator based in Houston. Her written works currently focus on her experiences as a disabled person, the Gulf Coast as environment and identity, and the (im)possibility of Black life in America. Her curatorial projects focus on Black self-representation through photography and film. She has received grants from the City of Houston, Photoville, and Poets & Writers; was one of the two inaugural artists chosen for DiverseWorks’ Project Freeway Fellowship; and is currently the 2020-2021 Literary Fellow for the Houston Museum of African American Culture. Her writing has appeared in print and online in various outlets, including Fourth Genre, LitHub, Magazine, and Houston’s own What’s the New News, and her photography exhibition The Fourth Ward Photo Parlour will debut and tour nationally in 2021. When not doing art, Willow enjoys reading the digital versions of the New York Times, the Houston Chronicle, and the Atlantic; drinking two cups of black tea with milk and two teaspoons of sugar in the morning; and taking on interior decorating projects.

Tionna: Tionna Winn is a sophomore at the Florida State University majoring in English and Sociology. She was a former major of Heard Em’ Say slam team in Tampa, Florida. She loves to write all types of poetry, but gravitates toward spoken word. She was awarded a writing award in the nonfiction division for a H.C.T.E writing competition. Her hobbies include; going on nature walks, golfing, reading, and deep discussions about the meaning of life.

Aris: Aris Kian Brown is a performance and page poet from the University of Houston. She has work 

published in Underground Journal, Panoplyzine, Defunkt Magazine and Write About Now. She is an MFA candidate for poetry and is an inaugural member of CoogSlam, who took 4th in the 2019 College Union Poetry Slam Invitational (CUPSI). When she isn’t writing, she’s probably watching Grey’s Anatomy or spending too much time on Twitter. 

Aris’ work features an affinity to metaphors of Blackness, the struggles of academia, and well-placed shiny objects. 

Kell: Kell Jettson Bernardo is an interdisciplinary artist from Houston, TX. His writing, music, and visual art deals with pop culture and the theme of reconciling the past. He’s worked with Dinolion in their immersive theatre show Lionshare. He’s currently working on creating a score for a narrative podcast and recording an EP. When he’s not trying to be budget-friendly Donald Glover, he likes to impress his friends with bad jokes. 

Keagan: Keagan is a musician and creative writer from the University of Houston. His poetry often focuses on transgender identity and how others, especially family, interact with that identity, though his more recent poetry starts thinking through how congenital heart disease impacts his identity. His work has been featured on Volumes 20, 21, and 22 of Glass Mountain. He has also been published by Z Publishing in Texas’s Best Emerging Poets, the Fall 2018 issue of The Tulane Review, and Shards Issue 4 and 7.

Keagan speaks on FTM identity, masculinity, and the impact of identity on embodiment.

April: April Lim is a Chinese Cambodian American poet from Houston, TX. She graduated with a B.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Houston where her poetry received the Howard Moss Prize in Poetry and the Bryan Lawrence Prize in Poetry. She has received fellowships from MVICW and The Watering Hole. Her work has been published in The Blueshift Journal, Glass Mountain Literary Magazine, and the Mekong Review. She works full-time as a Technical Editor for an IT & Solutions company.

April Lim speaks on diaspora, inherited trauma, superstitions, survival, and the refugee’s process in finding a new home when home no longer exists.

Durmerrick: Durmerrick Ross is a performance poet from Fort Worth, Texas. Durmerrick’s work centers around racial injustice, the Black experience in America, queer identity, and the Black faith tradition. Durmerrick is a 2-time National HBCU Poetry Slam champion, 2015 Brave New Voices finalist, and author of Always Never Dead: 25 Poems for My Son. When Durmerrick is not writing poetry, he is thrift shopping or hanging out with his fraternity (AΦΑ) brothers.

Durmerrick speaks on racial injustice, Black liberation theology, and the shortcomings of masculinity. 

Michael: M.C. Zendejas is a fiction writer, artist-activist, and English tutor from Houston, Texas. His work is featured in BULL: Men’s Fiction, Drunk Monkeys Literature + Film, Z Publishing’s anthology: Texas’s Best Emerging Writers, UNDERGROUND, Five2One Magazine, Your Impossible Voice, and X-R-A-Y Magazine. His debut chapbook, Swimming Through the Void, was published earlier this year and explores themes of class, the Latinx experience, and gender. He enjoys death metal and kickboxing.

Michael speaks to issues of race (specifically the Latinx experience), class, gender, and more. 

Calvin: Calvin King is a performance poet born and raised in Houston, TX. He was part of the 2019 MetaFour, Houston youth poetry slam team. In his free time, he is either ranting about pro-wrestling or binging Marvel movies. 

King’s work explores identity and pop culture.

Becca Dominguez is a member of the inaugural cohort of the WITS Emerging Writers Fellowship Program. She is a Junior Playwriting/Dramaturgy major at the University of Houston School of Theatre & Dance. In 2019, Dominguez was an intern for WITS Creative Writing camp where she fell in love with teaching. Her coming of age play “Plan B” has been produced at the UH Ten Minute Play Festival and most recently, her full-length Latinx coming out play “Quien Amas” has won a spot to be produced at the TETA Playfest.