Creative Writing fellowships are $5,000 unrestricted awards of merit, based on a writer’s body of work, and honoring Wyoming’s literary artists whose work reflects serious and exceptional writing. One fellowship is awarded in each category of Poetry, Creative Nonfiction, and Fiction, for a total of three fellowships. Applications are juried by noted authors, literary agents, or writing professionals from outside the state. Jurors may award honorable mentions.
Recipients of the Creative Writing fellowships share their work at one of the three Wyoming literary conferences. Applications are now closed and will open in the spring.
Janna Urschel is a sometime wedding harpist, dog musher, and linguist turned writer, teacher, and horse trainer. She lives in Laramie, Wyoming with a motley crew of horses, dogs, chickens, goats, and daughters. Janna teaches writing at Laramie County Community College and volunteers with Mountain Shadows Equine Revival, a local, nonprofit horse rescue.
Her work has appeared in Mamalode Magazine, Ladybug, Trolley, and “Stranged Writing,” a collection by The Gravity of the Thing. She was a finalist for the Montana Prize for Fiction, judged by Rick Bass, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and placed in the 2023 Wyoming Writers, Inc. contests for adults and young adults.
Jennifer Kocher is a freelance journalist living in northeast Wyoming. Originally from Ohio, she has lived out West for the past three decades and now calls Wyoming home. Jennifer has reported in Wyoming for more than a decade, and her byline has appeared in numerous regional publications and has won multiple state and national awards for her work. She’s also a ghostwriter and has completed four published books to date. Jennifer holds an undergraduate degree in journalism from Miami University in Ohio and master’s degrees in writing from the University of Colorado and University of Montana.
She’s currently at work on a first-person account involving her reporting of several missing person cases throughout the state, where she’s participated in ground searches and worked closely with private investigators and the families of the missing to help bring their loved ones home.
Outside of writing, Jennifer enjoys traveling, kayaking and walking and enjoying this beautiful state.
Rod Miller was raised on his family’s cow outfit north of Rawlins, and graduated from Rawlins High School. He was the Outstanding Wrestler for the Outlaws in “68.
He has been variously a working cowboy, a staff member for two Wyoming governors, a bookseller, a real estate wheeler-dealer and is now retired in Cheyenne. Miller has four sons and three grandchildren.
Miller had the good fortune to study under Jo McFadden at Rawlins Junior High, Margaret Demorest at Casper College, and Tommy Thompson at the University of Northern Colorado.
His volume of Poetry, “The Dog’s Pancake”, was published by High Plains Press in 2023.
The Frank Nelson Doubleday Award of $1,000 is given for the best poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, or script written by a woman writer. The Neltje Blanchan Memorial Writing Award, $1,000, is given annually for the best poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, or script which is informed by a relationship with the natural world. Both awards are designed to bring attention to writers in Wyoming who have not yet received wide recognition for their work and to support emerging writers at crucial times in their careers. Applications are currently closed.
Ann Stebner Steele is a writer, mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, teacher, horsewoman, backpacker, water-lover. She is a fifth generation Wyomingite who loves the wide horizons, dynamic skies, and sage-covered hills of the place where she lives. She was born in Rawlins, Wyoming and raised in the Red Desert and the Wind River Mountains. After she completed her M.F.A. in Creative Writing at the University of Idaho, she and her husband returned to Wyoming and now live in Laramie with their son, two dogs, one cat, and one horse. Her work has been published in “Orion,” “Souvenir Lit Journal,” “Western Confluence Magazine,” and the anthology “Atlantic City: Voices from a Powerful Place.” She has also been featured reading her work on Public Radio International’s “Living on Earth” program.
India Hayford is a naturalist, historical reenactor, teacher, and artist. Her short stories and feature articles have appeared in various regional and national publications, including “Threads and Needle Arts.” For the last eight years she has written The “Howl,” a quarterly wildlife newsletter with national distribution. She is the author of two books on embroidery design and is writing a third about Yemenite Jewish embroidery. She recently completed a novel, “Hiraeth,” and is working on a short story collection to be published in 2024. India lives in Natrona County with her husband, Roy, with whom she shares two children, two grandchildren, and half a dozen dogs and cats.
Honorable mentions were awarded to Sarah Hamilton of Casper, Catherine Reeves of Cheyenne, and Amy Hollon of Laramie for the Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Writing Award. Pamela Galbreath and Callie Plaxco of Laramie and Kathleen Smith of Gillette received honorable mentions for the Neltje Blanchan Memorial Writing Award.
The Wyoming Arts Council, with generous funding from The Pattie and Earle Layser Memorial Fund announces the Pattie Layser Greater Yellowstone Creative Writing and Journalism Fellowship. Open to writers and journalists, this fellowship seeks to intersect science, education, current events, and conservation to effectively communicate the Greater Yellowstone’s natural history and singular importance to society through creative and exceptional writing and subject communication.
This annual prestigious fellowship of $3,500 will be awarded to a creative writer (poetry, fiction, nonfiction), or those in the field of journalism (writer, photojournalist, videographer, documentary filmmaker, online or print media) who demonstrate serious inquiry and dedication to the Greater Yellowstone region through their work. Established and recognized authors are being sought, but emerging and mid-career writers are also encouraged to apply. Applications are currently closed. Applications for the next round will open in January 2024.
Austin was born and raised in the Paradise Valley of southwest Montana, the daughter of a teacher and a sometimes rancher, sometimes horse trainer, sometimes outfitter. She learned to ride a horse before she learned to ride a bike, accompanying her dad on guided trail rides and helping him move cattle on high pastures bordering Yellowstone National Park.
She attended Kindergarten through 12th grade at the Gardiner School, Yellowstone’s north entrance, and spent summers working for her parents and seasonal rafting companies and coffee shops, becoming part of the economic biome that she writes about in the rural west.
Austin attended Yale as an undergrad where she focused on global affairs and economic development and earned a fellowship to study income inequality in South Africa. She took poetry and literature classes on the side: her first true intellectual loves. After short stints in healthcare technology, finance, and marketing roles, Austin made her way back to Montana. She attended the University of Montana, earning master’s degrees in business analytics and environmental studies with a focus on environmental writing.
Now Austin splits her time between independent consulting work and personal writing projects. She will use the fellowship award to expand upon her master’s thesis, writing critically about the character of the Greater Yellowstone region and her own role in shaping it, recognizing that the tourism industry that supported her family is a double-edged sword: it props up an ecosystem of dude ranches, rafting companies, and Airbnb owners; but it also sucks the life out of local communities, pricing out working families, bankrupting local schools, and enabling a make-believe-cowboy lifestyle. Her work wrestles with a complicated family legacy and contemplates how her own children might experience this land given the pace of change – both ecological and economic – thrust upon it.
Austin lives in Bozeman, MT with her husband and is anxiously awaiting the arrival of their first child (any day now!). They talk about leaving Bozangeles all the time, but probably never will.
Honorable Mentions were given to Jeffrey Lockwood and Gregory Nickerson of Laramie and Julie Rubini of Toledo, Ohio.Previous Creative Writing Fellowship Recipients
Previous Layser Fellowship Recipients
2022 | Katie Christiansen | Evergreen, CO
2021 | Hannah Habermann | Jackson, WY
2020 | Sarah Keller | Bozeman, MT
2019 | Melodie Edwards | Laramie, WY
Previous Blanchan and Doubleday Award Recipients
Since 1989, 50 talented writers have received Blanchan/Doubleday awards:
Hollie Sambrooks, Brandon McQuade, Stefani Farris, Dakota Richardson, Linda Baker, sid sibo, Liberty Lausterer, Lyndi Waters, Jayme Feary, Erin Jones, Geoffrey O’Gara, Betsy Orient Bernfeld, Hannah Hinchman, David Mouat, Sheila Roberts, Scott Hagel, Holly Skinner, C.L. Rawlins, Marcia Saum, Dainis Hazners, Barbara Gilbert, William Hoagland, Diane LeBlanc, Tina Willis, Maija Rhee Devine, Mary Beth Baptiste, Julene Bair, Chavawn Kelley, Geneen Marie Haugen, Janell Hanson, Mark Spragg, Karol Griffin, Stefani Farris, Laura Bell, Darcy Lipp-Acord, Jack Clinton, Tina Welling, Susan Marsh, Myra L. Peak, Marcia Hensley, Jeffe Kennedy, Melodie Edwards, Bo Moore, Barbara Smith, Alisan Peters, Lou O. Madison, Christine B. Nelson, W. Dale Nelson, Nina S. McConigley, Patricia Frolander, Edith Cook, George Vlastos, Christine Fadden, Yvette Ward-Horner, Matt Daly and Marylee White.
Amount: $3,000 and $1,000
Contact: Kimberly Mittelstadt