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Congratulations to the Winners of the 2021 Emerging Poet Fellowship!

Updated: Jun 21, 2022

L. Renée and Seif-Eldeine Och

The Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow is pleased to announce the winners of the 2021 “Emerging Poet” fellowship for writers assembling their first published book of poems. Two winners, L. Renée and Seif-Eldeine Och were selected from 41 applications received from writers across the US. Their writing samples ranked highest with the judges for literary merit and the promise of publication in book form. They will each receive a two-week residency at the Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow.

L. Renée is a poet and nonfiction writer from Columbus, Ohio. She is a third-year MFA candidate at Indiana University, where she has served as Nonfiction Editor of Indiana Review and Associate Director of the Indiana University Writers’ Conference. Her work, nominated for Best New Poets and a Pushcart Prize, has been anthologized in Women of Appalachia Project's Women Speak: Volume 6. She is the recipient of the Indiana University Guy Lemmon Award in Public Writing, Appalachian Review's Denny C. Plattner Award, and second-place winner of the Crystal Wilkinson Creative Writing Prize from PLUCK! The Journal of Affrilachian Arts & Culture and New Limestone Review. Her poems have been published or forthcoming in Tin House Online, Obsidian, Poet Lore, the minnesota review, Southern Humanities Review, Sheila-na-gig Online, and elsewhere. She has received support from Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Kenyon Review Writers Workshop, Minnesota Northwoods Writers Conference, Martha's Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing, Oak Spring Garden Foundation, and Sundress Academy for the Arts. L. Renée believes in Black joy, which she occasionally expresses on Instagram @lreneepoems.

Renée is planning a residency in early 2022, when she will be generating new poems for her book project, And the Dust Still Sings: Black Appalachian Inheritances, which documents the experiences of her maternal ancestors from the tobacco fields of southwest Virginia to the coal mines of southern West Virginia during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. She says, “My work fuses both the creative and historical to reveal what is held by and missing from traditional archives. Composed of poems, prose documenting my discoveries, and artifacts, my book engages with literary and visual practices to render visible the often-unacknowledged narratives and passed-down legacies of Black Appalachians.”

Seif-Eldeine Och is a Syrian-American poet with a degree in Middle Eastern Studies from Tufts University, and an MFA in Poetry from Lesley University. He has been a finalist for the Fine Arts Work Center fellowship, the Etel Adnan Poetry Prize, and the Marsh Hawk Poetry Prize. He has been published in the Massachusetts Review, Poetry Daily, and Star 82 Review, among others. You can read his stream-of-consciousness poetry at

Och is planning a winter 2021 residency. He will be working on a book of narrative and lyrical poems about the Syrian Civil War told in poetry and narratives from the point of view of multiple narrators, including soldiers, refugees, women, men, children, and the elderly, as they face its harsh conditions. Och said, “When writing these poems, I have taken a deep dive into Middle Eastern and Syrian culture.” He continued, “The way I wrote the poems makes them accessible to a Western as well as a Middle Eastern audience. Western readers will not find themselves lost in the myriad references to Arab culture, and any interest they have in Arab Culture will blossom reading this work.”

Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow Executive Director, Michelle Hannon, said, “We believe that everybody has a sacred story to tell; therefore, it’s important that we serve writers of diverse genres, backgrounds, and levels of experience. It makes us especially grateful when an organization or individuals who share these values and choose to support us by sponsoring a fellowship. The Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow would like to thank author and Writers’ Colony alumna, Linda Leavell, and her husband, Brooks Garner, for developing and generously funding the “Emerging Poet,” “Illuminating Black Lives,” and “Humor Me” fellowships.” For more information about funding a fellowship supporting the genre and/or area of interest you are passionate about, visit

The Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow is a 501(c)3 nonprofit whose mission is to nurture writers of all backgrounds, genres, and levels of experience in a supportive environment that builds community, stimulates new thinking, energizes creative expression, and optimizes productivity. Since opening its doors to writers in 2000, the Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow has made a lasting impact on the arts and literary communities hosting over 1,600 writers from 48 states and 13 countries. For more information, please visit or call Michelle Hannon at (479)253-7444.

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