We are thrilled to announce our inaugural WNBA Authentic Voices Fellows!
The fellows will all participate in a four-month-long program that introduces them to publishing. Fellows attend courses with industry professionals and are taught about writing, editing, marketing, and publication. Fellows are paid a stipend and will have their work published.
If you’d like to sponsor the this special program, you can donate today.
Let’s meet the fellows!
2020–2021 WNBA Authentic Voices Fellows
Alaa Al-Barkawi first fell in love with literature after reading Sandra Cisneros’s The House on Mango Street when she was a sophomore in high school. Since then, Alaa has always had an affinity for raw, poetic storytelling. Growing up Iraqi in America, Alaa witnessed Iraqi stories demonized due to the US invasion. She hopes to see more authentic Iraqi voices flourish, with their stories told front and center. Currently, Alaa is writing Iraqi kid-lit fiction while also serving as a fellow for Bookends Literary Agency. When Alaa isn’t working on books, you can find her advising first-generation college students at a community college in Salt Lake City, UT.
Arao Ameny is Ugandan-born writer and poet from Lira, Lango region, Uganda. She spent her early childhood in Uganda and grew up in the United States. Ameny is interested in writing about immigrants, diaspora, migration, rootlessness, displacement, transition, belonging and the search for home. She has a pair of writing degrees: an MFA in Creative Writing in Fiction from the University of Baltimore (May 2019) and an MA in Journalism from Indiana University. Her first published poem “Home is a Woman” was published in The Southern Review in 2020 and won the James Olney Award. Ameny is an alumna of Tin House Workshop; a winner of the 2021 Brooklyn Poetry Fellowship; and a 2021 HUES Scholar by the HUES Foundation. You can follow her on Twitter @araoameny.
I am a senior Creative Writing major at Denison University. I am Anishinaabe from White Earth Reservation in Minnesota but grew up in rural Lyons Township, Wisconsin. My poetry and photography have been published in multiple regional publications, and I have received a couple awards for my fiction. As an Indigenous woman, I find that Native stories are own left out of the “American narrative” or, when included, are stereotyped and do not accurately portray Native culture. Therefore, I believe my story is important, because Indigenous people and other BIPOC need to be telling their own stories and re-storying the white dominated world of publishing with stories of perseverance and survival.
As an Afro-Chicana single mother, poet, essayist, scholar, educator, and daughter of working-class, Mexican immigrant parents, my story is important because it has largely gone unheard in the traditional publishing industry. Through my work as a co-editor of the Chicana M(other)work Anthology (2019) and cohort of the Chicana M(other)work podcast, a poetry workshop facilitator, and a participant in various community writing groups in Boyle Heights, LA, I am deeply invested in cultivating and amplifying BIPOC voices in print and digital media. Through my own creative work, I strive to demonstrate that the imagination is a site of social justice too.
I’m a gifted storyteller and playwright. My stories promote awareness for lesser known historical events and people. I write fiction and factual stories. I believe I have been chosen by my Ancestors to tell their stories in truth and wholeness. I recently did a DNA test and found that my African tribe is a legacy of Djelimusa (African Griot). And I’m to carry on that legacy. I love creating Stories that Educate, Entertain and Inspire. I’m the Edutaining Inspiring Djelimusa!!! When the weather is good, you can find me at any body of water, Beach, lake or stream. Modupe Egunguns
I am a scientist by training and have lived and worked in the USA and India. In addition to the study of biology, I enjoy experiencing and exploring other cultures, ideas, and customs, and consider myself fortunate to have been in personal and professional environments which foster curiosity and learning. I believe a good narrative — fiction or non-fiction — that is told well communicates ideas across borders and cultures, and hopefully results in greater global understanding of diverse veins running through the global human family.