The Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow is pleased to announce the winner of the 2020 “Real People, Real Struggles, Real Stories: Writing About Mental Illness” fellowship, awarded to a writer working on a short or long work of non-fiction focusing on how they (the writer or another) have managed, and continue to manage, their mental illness. Jami Nakamura Lin will receive a fully-funded two-week residency at the Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow. She will be working on a collection of essays called “The Night Parade,” which draws on Japanese mythology to tell braided stories of her experience living with bipolar disorder and her grief over her father’s illness and death. Each essay connects in some way to a yokai, the Japanese supernatural creatures of folklore and legend. Jami says, “I am drawn to these yokai because I can identify with these ‘monsters’ born out of other people’s fear. These essays are a way to illuminate the ghosts that will always be around me—to honor and tame them. We are afraid to speak of mental illness, we are afraid to speak of grief, but only when I see a monster can I understand the contours of its face.”
Jami received her MFA in creative writing (nonfiction) from Penn State in 2013. Since then, she has taken writing workshops through the Loft Literary Center, Catapult, and Story Studio Chicago. She has also taken classes from Ariel Gore and Esme Weijun Wang. Jami is a writer and editor at Anti-Racism Daily, a newsletter with over 90,000 subscribers and over 140,000 followers on Instagram. In May 2020, her piece "Does My Child's Name Erase My Identity?" was published in the New York Times, featured in the online NYT Parenting section, the print edition SundayStyles section, and on the front page of the website. In January 2020, Jami began writing “The Monster in the Mirror,” a bi-monthly essay column for Catapult, a website for writers. In fall of 2019, she edited an anthology called “What We Feed Ourselves: Food, Culture, and Acculturation,” that featured essays by immigrant writers on the relationship between food and identity. The project was funded by the Minnesota State Arts Board, Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, City of Minneapolis Government, and the Twin Cities Local Initiatives Support Corporation.
Jami was awarded a Creative Artists' Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Japan-US Friendship Commission in 2016. The $24,000 grant allowed her to spend four months writing and researching myths and folklore in rural areas all over Japan in 2017. This research fueled her later writing.
Jami is planning her residency for June 2021. She said, "I'm so honored to receive this fellowship. Motherhood and mental illness can make it difficult to carve out time for my own writing, especially during a pandemic! This fellowship will give me much-needed time to restore my energy and focus on my essays."
The public will have the opportunity to meet Jami and hear her read while she is in residence either live or virtually, depending on the COVID situation. Dairy Hollow Executive Director, Michelle Hannon, says, “It is an honor to be able to bring a professional writer with Jami’s talents, unique experiences, and obvious potential to Eureka Springs, and to share her story with the community. We’re very much looking forward to having her in residence.”
The Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow would like to thank long-time supporter and board member Sharon Spurlin for generously funding this fellowship. For more information about funding a fellowship, please visit https://www.writerscolony.org/product-page/fund-a-fellowship.
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 providing uninterrupted residency time for writers of all genres, including culinary, composers, and artists, without discrimination. The WCDH has hosted over 1,500 writers from 48 states and 13 countries. For more information, please visit writerscolony.org or call Michelle Hannon or Chad Gurley at (479)253-7444.