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Mass Cultural Council Awards Grants to Emerson Authors

asako serizawa head shot
Asako Serizawa, MFA ’01. Photo/Matthew Modica

A number of Emerson alumni and faculty were recently awarded grants from the Mass Cultural Council in the Fiction/Creative Nonfiction and Poetry categories.

With the motto, “Culture builds,” the Mass Cultural Council aims to make cultural life and education more accessible across the commonwealth.

Emersonians awarded the grant in the Fiction/Creative Nonfiction category include Asako Serizawa, MFA ’01; Jerald Walker, professor, WLP; Christine H. Chen, MFA ’20Rani Neutill, affiliated faculty, WLP; Kit Haggard, MFA ’18, affiliated faculty, WLP; and Sara Fraser ’90.

Serizawa, author of Inheritors (Doubleday, 2020) and winner of the Story Prize Spotlight Award and the PEN/Open Book Ward, received a $15,000 grant. Originally from Japan and raised in Singapore, Jakarta, and Tokyo, she attended Tufts University and Brown University, in addition to Emerson College.

Jerald Walker head shot smiling
Professor Jerald Walker

Walker, a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, was granted $15,000. His most recent book, How to Make a Slave and Other Essays, was shortlisted for a National Book Award and won the 2020 Massachusetts Book Award in Nonfiction. His 2010 book, Street Shadows: A Memoir of Race, Rebellion, and Redemption, received a 2011 PEN New England/L.L. Winship Award for Nonfiction, and was named a Best Memoir of the Year by Kirkus Reviews.

Chen, who also received a $15,000 grant, is a scientist with a background in drug discovery research and scientific writing, as well as a fiction writer published in Boston in 100 Words, Tiny Molecules, Reclaiming Asian American Identity through Storytelling, among other places, according to her Linked In page.

Neutill was awarded $15,000. She currently teaches classes in creative writing and Asian American literature at both Tufts University and Emerson College, in addition to teaching classes in memoir at Grubstreet. Her work has previously appeared in The New York Times Book Review, Buzzfeed, Cosmopolitan, and The Washington Post, to name a few.

Haggard received a $5,000 grant. Her work has appeared in The Kenyon Review, The Masters Review, and Electric Literature, among other places. In addition to the Mass Cultural Council fellowship, she has also been awarded the Rex Warner Prize, the Nancy Lynn Schwartz Prize for Fiction, and the Jane Geske Award, amongst others.

Fraser received a $5,000 grant. She is the author of Long Division (Black Rose Writing, 2019) and Just River (Black Rose Writing, 2021). Her work has also appeared in Wilderness House Literary Review, Stonecrop, Jabberwock Review, and more.

The faculty and alumni who received the grant in the Poetry category include Danielle Legros Georges ’86, LHD ’16; Rajiv Mohabir, Assistant Professor, WLP; Tatiana Johnson-Boria, MFA ’21 affiliated faculty, WLP; and Reginald Gibson, affiliated faculty, Professional Studies.

Legros Georges, author of several books of poetry, including The Dear Remote Nearness of You (Barrow Street Press, 2016) and Island Heart: The Poems of Ida Faubert (translation) (Subpress Books, 2021) received a $15,000 grant. She served as the second poet laureate of Boston from 2015 to 2019.

Mohabir headshot
Assistant Professor Rajiv Mohabir. Courtesy photo

Mohabir received a grant of $15,000. He is the author of the poetry collections The Taxidermist’s Cut (Four Way Books, 2016) and The Cowherd’s Son (Tupelo Press, 2017), winner of the Kundiman Poetry Prize. He received the New Immigrant Writing Award from Restless Books for his memoir Antiman (Restless Books, 2021). Mohabir is currently Translations Editor at Waxwaving Journal and teaches in the Writing, Literature and Publishing department at Emerson.

Johnson-Boria received a $15,000 grant. She is the author of the forthcoming collection, Nocturne in Joy (2023). She teaches at Emerson, GrubStreet, and Catapult, among other programs. She also coaches writers and creatives to help them develop creative strategies to effectively communicate, market, and execute their ideas.

Gibson was awarded a $5,000 grant. His poetry book Storms Beneath the Skin (EM Press, 2001) received the Golden Pen Award. He has toured with the Chicago Mask Ensemble, performing poetic adaptations of diverse myths from all over the world. Gibson also founded Neon JuJu, a literary and musical arts ensemble that combines classic literary texts with Middle Eastern, European, and Contemporary American styles of music.

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