The University of Miami College of Arts & Sciences Will Be the New Home to VONA/Voices Workshops for Writers of Color

Application Period for 2015 VONA/Voices Workshops at UM is Now Open for Writers of Color Throughout the US

The only multi-genre workshop for writers of color in the United States is relocating to the University of Miami (UM) beginning this summer.

Voices of Our Nation Arts Foundation (VONA/Voices) is partnering with the UM College of Arts & Sciences after a long stint at the University of California at Berkeley. VONA/Voices will offer its two-week intensive writing workshops in cooperation with UM’s Creative Writing Program.

VONA/Voices has guided more than 2,000 writers of color since being founded in 1999 by Elmaz Abinader, Junot Díaz, Victor Díaz, and Diem Jones. Workshop alumni include Tayari Jones, Maaza Mengiste, Laila Lalami, Miami novelist Patricia Engel, and UM alumnae Daisy Hernandez (MFA, 13) among other published authors.

In addition to Junot Díaz and Elmaz Abinader, the workshop faculty has featured such luminaries as Mat Johnson, Jeffrey Renard Allen, Cristina Garcia, Chris Abani, David Mura, Tananarive Due, Suheir Hammad, and UM professor, M. Evelina Galang.

Galang, who not only directs the UM Creative Writing Program but has also been a long time VONA/Voices faculty and board member, initiated the move from the Bay Area to Miami.

“Not only is Miami a natural home for cultural journeys,” said Diem Jones, VONA/Voices executive director, “we are thrilled to partner with the UM Creative Writing leadership, which has demonstrated its alignment with the VONA mission of serving the writing community of color.”

Leonidas G. Bachas, dean of the UM College of Arts & Sciences welcomed VONA/Voices as a natural partnership with UM.

“The College of Arts & Sciences is pleased to welcome the prestigious VONA/Voices to the University of Miami,” he said. “The presence of VONA/Voices on our Coral Gables campus will have an enormous impact on our community as we support and engage the University’s commitment to diversity.”

Dr. Pamela Hammons, professor and chair of the Department of English in the UM College of Arts & Sciences, added: “Like VONA, we are committed to supporting writers of color and reaching out to the local, national, and global community. We believe that VONA's faculty and students will find many forms of inspiration in South Florida, and we could not be more pleased with our new partnership."

VONA/Voices Program Director Elmaz Abinader said the VONA/Voices location is significant.

“It’s difficult to ask writers to talk about the vexing challenges of writing race, of developing inclusive literature, and having courage to create and be seen in an environment that is not welcoming,” Abinader said. “The enthusiasm of the UM College of Arts & Sciences and the Department of English, as well as the relevance of the political complexities of Miami, will foster discussion, reflection and inspiration for our writers.”

VONA/Voices is also being embraced by Coral Gables bookstore Books & Books, which will host the varied and often intense faculty readings that take place on Thursday of the VONA weeks and are free and open to the public.

More information about VONA/Voices at UM is available at  www.as.miami.edu/vona. The application process is now open, with a March 15, 2015, deadline. Scholarships are available.

February 09, 2015