Open City: Call for 2013-2014 Creative Nonfiction Fellows (Asian American Writers' Workshop)

15 March 2013
Open City: Call for 2013-2014 Creative Nonfiction Fellows (Asian American Writers' Workshop)
Deadline: 25 March 2013

Open City, an online magazine published by the Asian American Writers' Workshop, documents the pulse of metropolitan Asian America as it’s being lived on the streets of New York right now. Covered by the Wall Street Journal and NPR, a collaborative partner with the New Museum and the Museum of Chinese in America, Open City grants a $5,000 fellowship, career guidance, and publishing opportunities to five Creative Nonfiction Fellows to write and produce both short-form and long-form editorial content on the vibrant immigrant communities of Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. If you’re an emerging creative nonfiction writer looking for financial support, a place to publish and career mentorship, apply to become a Creative Nonfiction Fellow.


A publishing project of the Asian American Writers' Workshop, Open City that tells the New York stories you never hear, even though more than two-thirds of the city is comprised of people of color. We are the only venue covering stories dedicated to the other New York of low-income migrant neighborhoods. We tell the stories of evicted tenants and local organizers, domestic workers and immigrant elders. We tell the stories from the multi-ethnic Asian neighborhoods that now comprise one million New Yorkers. Open City offers a unique platform for writers to tell the stories of low-income Americans too often ignored or misrepresented. We have recently covered: Ramadan in New York; legendary graffiti artist Alain Mariduena's tour of Queens; low-income housing in the LES; Wal Mart’s invasion of LA Chinatown; the closing of the last Chinese language movie house in Chinatown; the gripping story of seniors trapped without power and heat in high-rises after hurricane Sandy; the tragic subway death of Ki Suk Han; the wage labor of a dumpling maker; and the eviction of the tenants of 11 Allen Street in Chinatown, about which we held a special photo exhibition.


Open City seeks to foster emerging writers and develop their exposure and brand as professional writers. Perhaps you have a personal interest in a topic/beat or an expertise in a particular neighborhoods, and you want to help shape its coverage while also developing a voice or area of expertise in gentrification, immigration or urbanism. Or perhaps you’re a writer that’s published a handful of times, and need a kick in the pants to get your career where you want it to be. Or you’re just hungry for creating stories that you and your friends actually care about. Then, this fellowship is for you.

Our stories have been covered by or linked to by the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and the Village Voice—and we were even invited to the White House as part of a special delegation of New York groups. We’ve collaborated on Open City events with the New Museum and the Museum of Chinese in America and attracted nearly 100,000 readers in just six months. We’ve produced excellent essays, meditations, and stories by five excellent young writers, many of whom have gone on to write for publications like Salon and The American Prospect or use the Open City to acquire a literary agent for their novel. Past Open City Fellows include; Deanna Fei, whose novel, A Thread of Sky, has been praised by the New York Times as “timeless and of the moment”; Sahar Muradi, the editor of One Story, Thirty Stories, an anthology of contemporary Afghan American literature; and Sukjong Hong, who as a result of her Open City writing appeared on MSNBC, NPR, and Al-Jazeera TV .

Each fellow will required to produce at least 12 publishable pieces in total, which means each fellow will have one piece due a month. These pieces will include: news feature (1,000-1,200 words), Q & As (800 words), profiles (1,200 words), personal essay (1,200 words), and long-form piece (2,500 words), as well as short-form pieces. Like any writer, you will be expected to meet deadlines, fact-check your information, record and transcribe your interviews and provide sources.

This is a literary project, but not a literary journal. Writers will learn how to edit and frame their pieces to attract a wide readership. Open City is an outlet for creative nonfiction--for original stories with creative flair. This fellowship allows emerging writers to hone their storytelling and “new journalism” skills by placing an emphasis on creative nonfiction—the literary child of muckraking and poetry. Either you need a gateway into this celebrated genre or you’re a creative writer-meets-citizen journalist. If so, we want to hear from you.

This is a yearlong fellowship that starts April 15th, 2013. Each fellow will report directly to the Open City editor.


We're looking for talented Asian American emerging writers looking to hone their creative nonfiction skills by engaging directly with contemporary New York. The ideal fellow:
  • Demonstrates excellent literary/journalistic merit. You are emerging writers who would benefit from the fellowship.
  • Possesses a deep interest in Asian American issues, social issues, social justice, low-income populations, race, culture, immigration, gentrification, urban landscapes, neighborhood and hyperlocal reporting.
  • Can produce creative work around these themes, while offering sharp commentary and analysis.
  • Is a curious, self-motivated go-getter that can re-imagine a neighborhood in innovative ways, while generating creative story ideas and ways to tell those stories.
  • Represents a diverse set of interests, backgrounds and experiential contexts.
  • A one-year stipend of $5,000;
  • Access to space at the Asian American Writers' Workshop to write in;
  • Private career lunch/dinner sessions with notable literary, journalism or publishing industry professionals. In the past, career speakers have included Siddhartha Deb, author and a contributor to The Nation and the New York Review of Books; Kirby Kim, a literary agent at William Morris Endeavor featured on the cover of Poets & Writers as a “Breakthrough Agent”; and Verso Editor Andrew Hsiao.
  • A personal critique and editing session so that you exit the fellowship with a strong portfolio of work;
  • Free membership to the Asian American Writers' Workshop and free access to its events (value $45);
  • Unlimited writing workshop access at the Asian American Writers' Workshop for a year (value up to $1200);
  • Opportunities to pitch stories to all of the Workshop’s new online magazines;
  • Opportunity to have your feature story nominated for New America Media Award (the Pulitzer of ethnic press);
  • Opportunity to have your work featured at an AAWW-sponsored reading or event themed around Open City. Past Open City Fellows participated in readings at the New Museum Festival of Ideas of the New City, the Museum of Chinese in America, and PAGE TURNER: The Asian American Literary Festival;
  • Consistent exposure, editing and mentorship.
  • We will also be applying for grants for colony time for fellows, so there is the possibility of greater benefits.
  • Start by reading past Open City stories at, as well as check out the AAWW at
  • Please email us a resume, work statement and work samples. The work statement should be limited to one page and describe your interest in Open City, relevant background, and your trajectory as a writer. Include at least three writing or media samples (links or PDFs preferred) that best match the work you would produce for Open City. It is highly recommended that applicants spend time on selecting creative nonfiction writing samples and developing story pitches and ideas for content creation, as these items will be strongly reviewed by a judging pool that will include publishing professionals, AAWW staff, and former Open City fellows. Please send the above to the Open City Editor at with your name and “Open City Creative Nonfiction Fellow” (e.g., “John Smith - Open City Creative Nonfiction Fellow”) in the subject line.
  • Fill out our application form here. Applicants who do not fill out the form and submit the required application materials (resume, work statement and at least three clips) will NOT be considered. No phone calls, please.

For queries:

For submissions: and fill out the application form here

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