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Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow awards Humor Me Fellowships

Marco Kaye and Debra Kirschner

The Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow is pleased to announce the winners of the 2021 “Humor Me” fellowship, open to poets, fiction writers, playwrights, essayists, columnists, memoirists, and screenwriters who use humor as a key element in their work. While the humor could range from wry to screwball, the work needed to demonstrate literary merit and the promise of publication, or in the case of theater and film, production. Two winners, Marco Kaye and Debra Kirschner, were selected from 58 applications received from writers across the US. They will each receive a fully-funded two-week residency at the Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow in 2021.

Marco Kaye hails from Maplewood, New Jersey, where he lives with his wife and three sons. His novel, Levon, won the 2019 James Jones First Novel Fellowship. He received his MFA in Fiction from New York University. His humor writing has appeared in The New Yorker's "Daily Shouts & Murmurs," as well as McSweeney's Internet Tendency. Kaye’s short stories appear in “What I Thought of Ain’t Funny: An Anthology of Short Stories Based on the Jokes of Mitch Hedberg,” and “Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet” #35. He has worked as a copywriter and Creative Director for eighteen years in advertising, winning the industry’s highest accolades and honors, including the top prize at Cannes.

Kaye is planning an October residency when he will be working on two comedic fiction novels-in-progress. He will also instruct a day-long short-form comedy-writing workshop for writers of all levels of experience.

Debra Kirschner is a prolific filmmaker from Brooklyn, New York. She specializes in honest stories about funny, flawed characters. Best known for writing and directing the feature film, The Tollbooth, her other film work includes the comic web series The Happy Mommy Hustle; Frog Kissers, a television pilot; a short screenplay, Pickled, written for Emmy-nominated director Tasha Oldham; and a 16mm short, Changing Clothes, that played at festivals worldwide. Kirschner also worked as a producer and event coordinator for New York Women in Film and Television (NYWIFT), a non-profit membership organization for professional women in film, television, and digital media; and has created videos for several small businesses, including the activist group Rise and Resist.

Kirschner will be a writer-in-residence at Dairy Hollow in August. Her writing project will include putting the final touches on her comedic screenplay, Mallwalkers. Set in post-COVID America, it’s about the resilience of seniors through unparalleled challenges. The film’s protagonist becomes a hero at 70 in stereotype-busting ways. Kirschner said, “In film, seniors are severely underrepresented, even though with baby boomers retiring, they are a fast-growing group of underserved consumers. During her residency, Kirschner will hold a creative writing workshop for seniors.

Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow Executive Director, Michelle Hannon, said, “Humor is a difficult genre, but also an important one, especially in trying times. It’s an honor to have such talented, promising humor writers as writers-in-residence at Dairy Hollow.” The “Humor Me” fellowship was developed and sponsored by author and WCDH alumna, Linda Leavell, and her husband, Brooks Garner. Hannon continued, “The sponsorship of this fellowship is just one way that Brooks and Linda have supported us this year. We are extremely grateful. In fact, the 'Emerging Poets' fellowship, which they also designed and funded, is currently accepting applications.” The fellowship supports a writer who is working on their first published book of poetry. For more information about funding a fellowship supporting a cause, genre, and/or area of interest you are passionate about, visit

The Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that provides uninterrupted residency time for writers of all genres, including culinary, composers, and artists without discrimination. We foster an environment that allows writers to work, interact with the wider community, stimulate new thinking, and energize creative expression. 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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