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JBLC 2022 Poetry Fellowship Winner Ashia Ajani

Announcing the 2022 JBLC Poetry Fellow

We are thrilled to announce the winner of the 2022 Poetry Fellowship: Ashia Ajani of Denver, CO. A storyteller and environmental educator, Ajani’s work explores Black diasporic environmental stewardship, harm and placemaking. Their poetry debut, Heirloom, is forthcoming in Spring 2023 from Write Bloody Publishing. Ajani will visit Buffalo this August for a writing residency and read at the Aug. 27 Silo City Reading Series event with Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Jericho Brown.

“Ashia Ajani’s poems are tactile, textured, essential,” said final judge Donika Kelly. “Firmly wrought, they bear the weight of American history, the possibilities of hope, and the call for community. What a gift to spend time with this poet’s work.”

In addition to naming Ajani as winner, five poets were recognized as finalists from the pool of over 100 applicants. The 2022 finalists are Ariana Benson, Erin Marie Lynch, Milica Mijatović, hanta t. samsa, and Bernardo Wade. Join us in celebrating these incredible poets!

2022 Poetry Fellowship Winner

Ashia Ajani

Ashia AjaniAshia Ajani (they/them) is an award-winning Black storyteller soulchild hailing from Denver, CO, Queen City of the Plains and the unceded territory of the Cheyenne, Ute, Arapahoe and Comanche Peoples. They are an environmental justice educator with Mycelium Youth Network and co-poetry editor of The Hopper. Their work explores Black diasporic environmental stewardship, harm & placemaking. Their words have been featured in Sierra Magazine, World Literature Today, Lumiere Review, Atmos Magazine and Eco Theo Review, among others. Their poetry debut, Heirloom, is forthcoming in Spring 2023 from Write Bloody Publishing. They can be found grass-side, sharing a cup of coffee with the sun. Website: AshiaAjani.com

2022 Poetry Fellowship Finalists

ariana benson headshotAriana Benson was born in Norfolk, Virginia. She received the 2022 Furious Flower Poetry Prize, the 2022 Porter House Review Poetry Prize, and the 2021 Graybeal Gowen Prize for Virginia Poets. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in POETRY, Copper Nickel, Colorado Review, Indiana Review, Black Warrior Review, and elsewhere. She is the 2022 Eliza Moore Fellow for Artistic Excellence at the Oak Spring Garden Foundation. Through her writing, she strives to fashion vignettes of Blackness that speak to its infinite depth and richness.
Website: ArianaBenson.wordpress.com

Erin Marie LynchErin Marie Lynch is a poet and artist. Her writing appears in New England Review, Gulf Coast, DIAGRAM, Best New Poets, and other publications, while her performance and video work has been featured at a variety of exhibitions and festivals. A winner of Narrative Magazine’s 30 Below Contest, she has been the recipient of fellowships from Hugo House and the Bill & Ruth True Foundation. Born and raised in Oregon, she is a descendant of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Currently, she is a PhD candidate in Creative Writing and Literature at the University of Southern California, where her research focuses on Native archives and poetics. Website: ErinMarieLynch.com

Milica Mijatović is a Serbian poet and translator. Born in Brčko, Bosnia and Hercegovina, she relocated to the United States where she earned a BA in Creative Writing and English Literature from Capital University. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Boston University and is a recipient of a Robert Pinsky Global Fellowship in Poetry. Her poetry appears or is forthcoming in Rattle, The Louisville Review, Poet Lore, Collateral, Santa Clara Review, Barely South Review, and elsewhere. Her poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and she serves as Assistant Poetry Editor for Consequence. Website: MilicaMijatovic.com

Hanta Samsahanta t. samsa is a genrequeer poet, writer and editor by way of Zhigagoong/Chicago. He holds an MFA in Fiction from Bennington College and an MFA in Poetry from Virginia Tech. His fiction and essays can be found in Aster(ix) Journal, Mangal, Kenyon Review, the minnesota review and elsewhere, mostly under his dead name. He is @hanta.tala.samsa on IG and @hantatalasamsa on the bird app.

Bernardo WadeA Black writer from New Orleans, Bernardo Wade tries at poems & rides his bike around Bloomington, IN, because IU funds his present period of studying with others. He currently serves as the EIC of Indiana Review, & has received support from Tin House, Community of Writers, Frost Place, the Watering Hole & others. He was recently awarded the 2021 Puerto del Sol Poetry Prize and has words in or forthcoming in The Nation, Crazyhorse, Black Warrior Review, Southern Review, Guernica, Cincinnati Review & elsewhere. He is infatuated with Ed Roberson’s question, “Can you O.D. on life?” Website: BernardoWade.com

The Just Buffalo Literary Center Poetry Fellowship seeks to advance the career of an individual poet as well as raising Buffalo’s visibility nationwide as a literary city. More information about the fellowship can be found here.