2018–2019 Hugo House Fellows

Courtney Bird is a storyteller working primarily within the context of American folklore and fairy tales to explore the body as vessel, fortress and ally. She is particularly interested in female identity and individuality, and her stories tend to exist in liminal spaces. Born in New Jersey, Courtney holds an MFA in Fiction from the University of Montana and a BA in Art History from Princeton. Her work has appeared in The Fairy Tale Review, The Masters Review, The Indiana Review, Barrelhouse, and The Los Angeles Review, among others.

Courtney will be working on the second draft of a novel set in the Pine Barrens of southern New Jersey in the 18th and 19th centuries. It is the story of a woman disfigured by fire, told in a fractured narrative recalling folklore variants wherein one tale takes on many forms. As in much of her work, she is exploring the relationship between body and self, self and other. The work was inspired by the death of her great-great-grandmother and is, in many ways, driven by the unique ecological landscape of the Pine Barrens.

Emily Dhatt is a writer, organizer, and communications person living in Seattle, WA. She received her MFA in poetry from Virginia Tech, where she lived in a rectangular house in the woods and learned to tolerate spiders. She is originally from Seattle, where she studied creative writing and linguistics as an undergraduate at the University of Washington. Her writing has been published in journals like Bat City Review, Crab Creek Review, Hobart, & Entropy Magazine, and she was the recipient of a 2016 Academy of American Poets prize.

Emily is working on a collection of creative nonfiction essays, poems, and in-between forms of writing. Her work explores the idea of navigating a world that is dangerous, and seeing writing as a process of humiliation and vulnerability.

Anis Gisele is a bright light, a ferocious, self-loving Gemini femme. They write about race, gender-expansiveness, violence, and accountable love. They come from Manila, Philippines and from so many women who were told to be quiet.

“bright light :: tala” will be their first full-length poetry manuscript. Tala is a Tagalog word that means highest star in the sky. The bilingual title represents their dual identities as both a Filipinx and an American – a storykeeper of both histories and a changemaker within both cultures.

Kim Kent is a poet from New England who has found home in the Pacific Northwest. She holds an MFA in poetry from Eastern Washington University and currently works for Chin Music Press in Seattle where she is learning how to design books. Her poems have appeared in the Lilac City Fairy Tale Anthology, Cloudbank, Nimrod, and others.

Kim is at work on her first collection of poetry. Her poems explore, among many things, women speaking from inside the landscapes of film noir, rural New England, childhood memory, sisterhood, and other emotional states of outsiderness. She also hopes use her time as a Made Fellow to design and produce a collaborative publishing project that focuses on writers responding to other forms of art.

Katrina Otuonye is a writer, editor, and educator from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. She holds a BA from the University of Tennessee and an MFA from Chatham University. She has taught courses in Pittsburgh, Cookeville, Nashville, and Wuhan, China; and presented a pedagogy proposal at the Sorbonne as part of the &Now Festival. She often writes about personal experiences alongside her interests in art history, health disparities, and superheroes. Katrina’s fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Atticus ReviewLitro MagazineCrab Orchard Review, and The Toast, among others. She is a fiction editor at Pacifica Literary Review and was recently the Guest Editor of the Black Lives Matter Special Issue of Wild Age Press. You’ll find more of her work on her portfolio: katrinaotuonye.com.

Otuonye will complete a collection of personal essays centered around her jaw surgery in 2013. While her jaw was wired shut, she made connections to Black women and silence, anxiety, and the limits of strength. She is interested in the ways that people — Black women in particular — use silence to protect themselves, and how this silence can negatively impact mental health.

Dujie Tahat is a Filipino-Jordanian immigrant living in Washington state. He is the author of Here I Am O My God, selected by Fady Joudah for a Poetry Society of America Chapbook Fellowship. Their poems have been published or are forthcoming in PoetrySugar House Review, the Journal, the Southeast ReviewNarrativeBennington ReviewAsian American Literary Review, and elsewhere. In addition to Hugo House, Dujie has earned fellowships from Jack Straw Writing Program and the Poetry Foundation, as well as a work-study scholarship from Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. They serve as a poetry editor for Moss and Homology Lit and cohost The Poet Salon podcast. He got his start as a Seattle Poetry Slam Finalist, a collegiate grand slam champion, and Seattle Youth Speaks Grand Slam Champion, representing Seattle at HBO’s Brave New Voices.

With the help of Hugo House, Dujie will work on a poetry chapbook about the US Census—specifically, how shared grief, identity, power, and political will shape who gets counted and who remains unseen.