HBCU Creative Instructor A.J. Verdelle wearing a black headband and pink scarf

AWP HBCU Fellowship Program

Thriving creative writing programs exist at most Historically Black Colleges & Universities, but at present, no HBCU has an MFA program. AWP recognizes there is a significant need for new generations of Black writers to be nurtured and encouraged, especially by those with shared cultural experiences. Keeping this in mind, AWP seeks to recognize and uplift the work HBCU faculty are doing to further establish creative writing programs at their institutions with the newly launched AWP HBCU Fellowship Program.

To invite strong HBCU participation within AWP, we will award faculty and student fellowships to attend and participate in every annual AWP Conference & Bookfair. These fellowships will kick off with the 2023 AWP Conference & Bookfair in Seattle, Washington!

For #AWP23, we will award two faculty fellowships and four student fellowships. Faculty fellowship applications are open from September 1–October 31, and student fellowship applications will open in November.

Meet Our Creative Advisor:

In Seattle, faculty and student fellows will have the opportunity to work and speak with special guest author A.J. Verdelle! Verdelle is a novelist and essayist who currently teaches graduate students in the MFA program at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She also teaches undergraduates at Morgan State University, the largest HBCU in Maryland and the ninth largest in the nation.

Verdelle began her teaching career at Princeton University, where she was on the faculty with Toni Morrison. In May 2022, Verdelle published a memoir of their 20-year relationship—Miss Chloe: A Memoir of Literary Friendship with Toni Morrison (Harper/Amistad). Her first novel, The Good Negress, is taught nationally in high schools and colleges and has been referred to as a modern classic.

In addition to assisting with selecting two HBCU faculty fellows, Verdelle will also host a private discussion with the fellows and lead a lecture open to all conference attendees on supporting creative writing endeavors and paths to publishing at HBCUs.

#AWP23 Student Applications

The #AWP23 HBCU Fellowships will be offered to four students. The fellowships include:

  • A $250 honorarium
  • Paid travel expenses and lodging for the duration of the conference
  • Meeting and discussion with A.J. Verdelle
  • Publication in The Writer’s Chronicle regarding their #AWP23 experience

To be eligible for these fellowships, applicants must be:

  • Active HBCU student (part or full-time)
  • Available to travel to Seattle from March 8–11, 2023
  • Willing to attend all scheduled HBCU conference events.

Applications for faculty fellows have closed. Applications for student fellows will be open November 15–January 15, 2023.