Emerging Writer Award Winners Read Their Work

Lisa Lee, Amanda Hawkins, and Nayereh Doosti. Photo by Ofelia Montelongo

By Ofelia Montelongo

On Friday, January 13th, after defying the rain and the wind, Emerging Writer Award winners Lisa Lee (novel-in-progress), Amanda Hawkins (poetry), and Nayereh Doosti (short story) read from their work at the Coffee Butler Amphitheater in Key West, Florida. The awards support writers with extraordinary talent and potential for long-lasting literary careers. 

Lisa Lee, the recipient of the Marianne Russo Award, kicked off the session by reading from her novel in progress. After the event, I asked her about her seminar experience so far, “What a wonderful gift to get to spend this week in Key West. I’ve met wonderful writers at the seminar and in my workshop with Dantiel W. Moniz, an experience that I’ll always remember fondly. The Key West Literary Seminar welcomed me with such warmth, such generosity, I know I’ll come back again one day.” Lee was awarded an Emerging Writer Fellowship from the Center of Fiction, and her novel excerpt “Paradise Cove” won a Pushcart Prize. Lee holds a doctorate degree in creative writing and literature from the University of Southern California. Her work explores issues of inherited trauma, class and gender expectations, Korean American masculinity, and police violence. 

After Lee, Amanda Hawkins, the Scotti Merrill Award for poetry recipient, delighted us with their words. While their printed pages fought with the wind, Hawkins transported us to a place of grief. After their reading, Hawkins mentioned, “It means so much to be here at the seminar and workshop, especially this year–to celebrate Black American voices, to learn from Cornelius Eady, and to be honored with an award. Humbled.” 

Nayereh Doosti is the recipient of the Cecelia Joyce Johnson Award for a short story. Doosti is a writer and translator from Shiraz and Booshehr, Iran, and elsewhere. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Amherst College and an MFA degree in fiction from Boston University. Doosti read eloquently from a short story narrating the arrival of the main character in the United States.


Ofelia Montelongo is a bilingual writer from Mexico. She holds an MBA degree in Strategic Leadership and a master’s degree in Latin American Literature. Her work has been published in The Rumpus, Latino Book Review, Los Acentos Review, and elsewhere. She currently teaches at the George Washington University, and she is a PEN/Faulkner writer in residence, a Macondista, and a PEN America Emerging Voices Fellow.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>