Three Tennessee Writers Awarded TN Arts Commission Fellowships

From Lee Baird, Director of Literary Arts and Grants Analyst –

The Tennessee Arts Commission is pleased to award three Individual Artist Fellowships in Literature. The fellowships are five thousand dollars each and are awarded for artistic excellence and are not geared towards a specific project. This year was an exciting one for the Literary Arts department as we offered our inaugural prize in Children’s/Young Adult Literature in addition to our usual Fiction and Poetry categories. Other literary categories may be offered in the future on a rotating basis. Here is some information about this year’s class of awardees. I encourage you to seek out their work and support the literary arts in Tennessee.

Jessica Miller is the 2021 Tennessee Arts Commission Fellow in Children’s/Young Adult Literature. She holds a master’s degree in English and is currently an adjunct professor at the University of Tennessee – Chattanooga and at Martin Methodist College. Under her nom de plume, J Kasper Kramer, she published her middle-grade debut The Story That Cannot Be Told in 2019. It has received positive reviews and is being translated into several languages. Her next book, The List of Unspeakable Fears is due this year. Jessica’s initial thinking was that if she won the fellowship, she would travel to do research for her next project. Since quarantine has made that an impossibility, she says, “If I use the fellowship to supplement my income, it could provide me the stability to cut back on my teaching by half in the Spring, so I would have more time to focus on writing.”

Corrie L. White is the 2021 Tennessee Arts Commission Fellow in Poetry. A journalist and former English teacher by trade, she has a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. She has published poems in many literary journals and publications such as Oxford American and The Mississippi Review. Corrie will use her fellowship award to hone her skills at residencies and workshops, but perhaps as importantly, she says the fellowship “…bolsters my identity as a writer-of-place living in Tennessee.” This Fall, she will be submitting her poetry manuscript to publishers and various first-book contests. According to Corrie, “The poet’s work is often solitary, but due to the fellowship of organizations like the Tennessee Arts Commission, I feel inspired and championed to continue my craft with a sense of community and a humble sense of gratitude.”

Charles Booth is the 2021 Tennessee Arts Commission Fellow in Fiction. Currently an adjunct Communication Instructor at Austin Peay State University, he holds a master’s degree in English and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. Charles has won several awards for his short stories, among them: First Prize in the 2014 Alligator Juniper National Fiction Contest and second prize in the 2017 Playboy College Fiction Contest. He hopes to use the award to fund his book of short stories that he hopes to publish soon. He says, “I am honored to be selected. I know individuals who have won before and am honored to be in the company of people I respect and admire.” Charles, like many of the Commission’s fellowship winners, had applied for several years before being awarded a fellowship. Tenacity pays. He says of the program and its application, “It’s very accessible. People should take advantage of the opportunity.

Please join me in congratulating all the 2021 Tennessee Arts Commission’s Literary Arts Fellowship recipients.