Poets & Writers Selects Ten Debut Poets for Get the Word Out Publicity Incubator

Top row (left to right): Ashia Ajani, Caitlin Cowan (credit: Chantal Roeske), Ae Hee Lee, Sebastian Merrill (credit: Beowulf Sheehan), Sahar Muradi (credit: Krista Fogle). Bottom row (left to right): Olatunde Osinaike, Dimitri Reyes, Leslie Sainz, Violet Spurlock, and Jorrell Watkins.

New York, NY—March 17, 2023—Poets & Writers today announced the ten debut poets selected for the spring 2023 cohort of Get the Word Out, a publicity incubator designed to provide expert advice and peer support for early-career authors—at no cost to the authors or their publishers.

In the months ahead, these ten poets will take part in a series of workshops led by Morgan LaRocca, publicist at Milkweed Editions, supplemented by seminars with other leading publishing professionals. The poets, who hail from cities across the United States including Amherst, Massachusetts; Atlanta; Oakland; and Richmond, will each develop and execute a strategic marketing plan designed to leverage the pivotal opportunity presented by their debut collections.

“Following on the success of our inaugural cohort of fiction writers, we’re thrilled with this first group of poets and very excited to work with them,” said Thierry Kehou, Poets & Writers’ director of programs & partnerships. “The quality of applications we received was exceptional, which made the selection process a real challenge but also illustrated the hunger for this type of support. Poets & Writers is very proud to be able to offer it. ”

Get the Word Out builds on Poets & Writers’ long history of providing practical guidance about the business of writing.

The program is part of United States of Writing, an initiative to extend and deepen Poets & Writers’ service to writers nationwide. It aims to reduce barriers to success for writers from historically marginalized communities—including BIPOC and LGBTQ writers—as well as those from outside of New York City and those whose books are published by independent presses. Get the Word Out is generously supported by Leonard and Louise Riggio and Macmillan Publishers. (For more information visit at.pw.org/GTWO.)

Poets & Writers will accept applications for the next cycle of debut fiction writers beginning in September.


Ashia Ajani is a sunshower, a glass bead, a carnivorous plant, an overripe nectarine. Ajani is a multi-genre storyteller hailing from Denver, Queen City of the Plains and the unceded territory of the Cheyenne, Ute, and Arapahoe peoples. Their debut poetry collection, Heirloom, is forthcoming in spring 2023 from Write Bloody Publishing. A Black future is emergent, always.

Ae Hee Lee was born in South Korea and raised in Peru. Her debut collection, Asterism, has been awarded the 2022 Dorset Prize by John Murillo and will be published by Tupelo Press in 2024. She is also the author of several poetry chapbooks: Bedtime || Riverbed (Compound Press, 2017), Dear bear (Platypus Press, 2021), and Frost Place Chapbook Competition winner Connotary (Bull City Press, 2021). She is a recipient of a James Olney Award by the Southern Review, a winner in Adroit Journal’s Gregory Djanikian Scholar Program in Poetry, and a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship finalist. She received scholarships and awards from the Academy of American Poets, AWP, Gasher, the Palm Beach Poetry Festival, and Bread Loaf, among others.

Caitlin Cowan is the author of the forthcoming collection Happy Everything (Cornerstone Press, 2024). Her poetry, fiction, and nonfiction have appeared in Best New Poets, the Rumpus, New Ohio Review, Pleiades, SmokeLong Quarterly, the Account, and elsewhere. She serves as the Chair of Creative Writing at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp and writes about poetry and pop culture at PopPoetry. She lives on Michigan’s west coast with her fiancé and their young daughter.

Sebastian Merrill’s forthcoming book GHOST :: SEEDS (Texas Review Press, 2023) was selected by Kimiko Hahn as the winner of the 2022 X. J. Kennedy Poetry Prize. The 2022–2023 winner of the Larry Levis Post-Graduate Stipend from Friends of Writers, Merrill holds an MFA in Poetry from Warren Wilson College and a BA in English Literature from Wellesley College. He has received support from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Tin House Workshop, Juniper Summer Writing Institute, the Paris Review, and the Academy of American Poets.

Sahar Muradi is author of the collection Octobers, selected by Naomi Shihab Nye for the 2022 Donald Hall Prize for Poetry and forthcoming in fall 2023 from the University of Pittsburgh Press. She is also author of the chapbooks [ G A T E S ] (Black Lawrence Press, 2017), Ask Hafiz (winner of the 2021 Patrons’ Prize for Emerging Artists from Thornwillow Press), and A Garden Beyond My Hand (Belladonna* Collaborative, 2019). Her writing has been supported by the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, Bethany Arts Community, Blue Mountain Center, Kundiman, WOC Writers, and, especially, her family.

Olatunde Osinaike is a Nigerian-American poet and software developer from the West Side of Chicago. His debut collection, Tender Headed, was selected by Camille Rankine for the 2022 National Poetry Series and will be published by Akashic Books in December 2023. He is the author of two limited edition chapbooks, Speech Therapy (TAR, 2019) and The New Knew (Thirty West, 2019). He lives with his wife in Atlanta.

Leslie Sainz is the author of the debut poetry collection Have You Been Long Enough at Table, forthcoming from Tin House in September 2023. The daughter of Cuban exiles, she is the recipient of a 2021 National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Fellowship. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming from the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day, the Yale Review, New England Review, Kenyon Review, and elsewhere. A CantoMundo fellow and three-time National Poetry Series finalist, she is the managing editor of the New England Review.

Violet Spurlock’s first full-length book, In Lieu of Solutions, received the Other Futures Award and is forthcoming from Futurepoem in fall 2023. Spurlock is a writer living in the Bay Area. She is the author of Alloyed Bliss (Eyelet, 2021) and VS VS VS (GaussPDF, 2021).

Dimitri Reyes is a Boricua multidisciplinary artist, YouTuber, and educator from Newark, New Jersey. His forthcoming book, Papi Pichón, will be published in summer 2023 by Get Fresh Books. His chapbook, Every First and Fifteenth (2021), is the winner of the Digging Press 2020 Chapbook Award and his poetry journal, Shadow Work for Poets, is now available on Amazon. Some of his work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, and you can find more of his writing in Poem-a-Day, Vinyl, Kweli, and Acentos.

Jorrell Watkins’s debut full-length collection Play|House is forthcoming in 2024 from Northwestern University Press, Curbstone Books. Watkins is from Richmond, and is an alum of Hampshire College and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He received fellowships from the Smithsonian Institution, Fulbright Japan, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. His chapbook, If Only the Sharks Would Bite, won the inaugural Desert Pavilion Chapbook Series in Poetry.


Poets & Writers is the primary source of information, support, and guidance for poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers in the United States. Our mission is to foster the professional development of poets and writers, to promote communication throughout the literary community, and to help create an environment in which literature can be appreciated by the widest possible public.

Poets & Writers Magazine is the leading publication of its kind, reaching a readership of 100,000. Our website offers extensive free resources to help writers navigate the literary marketplace as well as a lively online community. Our programs include Readings & Workshops, which pays writers for giving readings and leading writing workshops in small towns and big cities across the country; Mapping the Maze, an online workshop that demystifies the publishing process and helps writers chart a path to publication; and Get the Word Out, a publicity incubator for debut authors. We sponsor the Jackson Poetry Prize and Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award. We are guided by our core values of service, inclusivity, integrity, and excellence and are committed to becoming an antiracist organization. Learn more at pw.org.