Poets & Writers Selects Ten Early Career Fiction Writers for Get the Word Out Publicity Incubator

Get the Word Out 2023 fiction cohort, pictured, from top left:
Alisa Alering, Kathya Alexander, Esinam Bediako, Christina Cooke, Marissa Higgins,
Parul Kapur, Bruna Dantas Lobato, Jessie Ren Marshall, Lynn Stansbury, and Lena Valencia.


New York, NY—November 17, 2023—Poets & Writers announced today the ten writers selected for the 2023 fiction cohort of Get the Word Out, a publicity incubator for early career authors.

Each writer will receive expert advice and peer support to maximize the exposure of their forthcoming first book. They will take part in a series of workshops led by May-Zhee Lim, a writer and freelance publicist who has worked with prize-winning authors Hernan Diaz, James McBride, Masha Gessen, and others. Lim’s expert guidance will be complemented by seminars with other leading publishing professionals. Each participating writer will develop and execute marketing strategies designed to take full advantage of the opportunities presented by the publication of their first books while building skills to identify and harness future opportunities.

Launched in 2022, Get the Word Out builds on Poets & Writers’ decades-long history of providing practical guidance about the business of writing and aims to provide in-depth publicity training to early career authors, at no cost to the participants or their publishers. The ten fiction writers selected this fall comprise the program’s third cohort; early successes for program alumni include recognition as a National Book Foundation “5 Under 35” honoree (Ada Zhang for her short story collection, The Sorrows of Others), coverage on NPR’s Weekend Edition (Federico Erebia for his novel, Pedro & Daniel), and appearances on Helena de Groot’s podcast Poetry Off the Shelf (Sebastian Merrill, Sahar Muradi, and Leslie Sainz).

“Relationships and access are key to book publicity,” said Thierry Kehou, director of programs and partnerships at Poets & Writers. “Get the Word Out open doors to promising writers who might not otherwise have access to in-depth publicity support, connecting them to key players in the publishing world and equipping them with the tools they need to launch their careers and reach readers. I can’t wait to watch this talented group of writers take what they learn and run with it.”

The ten writers selected for Get the Word Out’s 2023 fiction cohort reside in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Hawai’i, Missouri, New York, Washington, and Washington, D.C.

Get the Word Out 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. For more information, visit at.pw.org/GTWO.

Poets & Writers will accept applications for the next cohort of early career poets beginning in February 2024.


Alisa Alering grew up in the Appalachian Mountains of Pennsylvania and now lives in Arizona. After attending Clarion West, their short fiction has been published in Fireside, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, Podcastle, and Cast of Wonders, among others, and been recognized by the Calvino Prize. A former librarian and science/technology reporter, they teach fiction workshops at the Highlights Foundation. Their debut novel, Smothermoss, is forthcoming from Tin House Books in 2024.

Kathya Alexander is a writer, playwright, storyteller, and teaching artist. She was a writer-in-residence at Hedgebrook and won the Fringe First Award for Black to My Roots: African American Tales from the Head and the Heart in Edinburgh, Scotland. She has been published in the Pitkin Review, Arkana Magazine, Pontoon Poetry, Colors NW Magazine, the South Seattle Emerald and Native Skin Magazine, and in anthologies by the African American Writers Alliance and Raising Lily Ledbetter: Women Poets Occupy the Workplace by Lost Horse Press. Her debut novel, Keep A’Livin’, will be published by Aunt Lute Books in 2024.

Esinam Bediako is a Ghanaian American writer from Detroit. She is the author of the Ann Petry Award-winning novel Blood on the Brain, forthcoming from Red Hen Press in 2024, as well as the essay/poetry chapbook Self-Talk (Porkbelly Press, 2024). You can find some of her recent work in Porter House Review, Cathexis Northwest Press, North American Review, and Southern Humanities Review. Esi lives in Claremont, California with her husband and their two sons, who create stories, videos, and other artwork with enviable speed and imagination.

Christina Cooke’s writing has previously appeared in the Caribbean Writer, Prairie Schooner, PRISM international, Epiphany: A Literary Journal, and elsewhere. A MacDowell Fellow, Journey Prize-winner, and Glenna Luschei Prairie Schooner Award-winner, she holds a Master of Arts from the University of New Brunswick and a Master of Fine Arts from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Born in Jamaica, Christina is now a Canadian citizen who lives and writes in New York City. Her debut novel, Broughtupsy, is forthcoming from Catapult in 2024.

Marissa Higgins is a lesbian writer. She is a D.C. Arts & Humanities Fellowship recipient, a Tin House Winter Workshop scholar, and a Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center summer fellow. Her work has appeared in the Best American Food Writing 2018, Glamour, Slate, Salon, NPR, the Washington Post, Atlantic, and elsewhere. Her first book, A Good Happy Girl, will be published by Catapult in 2024.

Parul Kapur’s debut novel, Inside the Mirror, won the AWP Prize for the Novel and is forthcoming from the University of Nebraska Press in March 2024. Her short fiction has appeared in Ploughshares, Pleiades, Midway Journal, and more. Her articles and reviews have appeared in the New Yorker, the Wall Street Journal Europe, Art in America, Los Angeles Review of Books, Slate, and the Paris Review. She holds an MFA from Columbia University and has received fellowships from the Hambidge Center and the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts.

Bruna Dantas Lobato is a writer and translator. Her fiction has appeared in the New Yorker, Guernica, A Public Space, and the Common. Her translations include The Words That Remain by Stênio Gardel, which won the 2023 National Book Award for Translated Literature. Lobato was born and raised in Natal, Brazil, and lives in St. Louis, Missouri. Her debut novel, Blue Light Hours, is forthcoming from Grove Atlantic in 2024.

Jessie Ren Marshall’s debut story collection, Women! In! Peril!, will be published by Bloomsbury in April 2024. Her writing has appeared in places like Electric Lit, NER, ZYZZYVA, Joyland, and the New York Times, and she has an MFA from New York University. She lives off-grid with her dogs on Hawai‘i Island.

Lynn Stansbury is a writer, community medicine physician, and epidemiologist who has lived and worked all over the United States and the world but who came of age in the Peace Corps in Guatemala during the Vietnam War era. A writer since childhood, her fiction and her medical research and writing investigate lived experience, always with the aim of crossing borders. She lives now with her husband in Seattle and keeps tabs on family in Wisconsin and New Zealand. Not All Dead Together will be published by Chin Music Press in 2024.

Lena Valencia’s fiction has appeared in Ninth Letter, Epiphany, Joyland, the anthology Tiny Nightmares, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of a 2019 Elizabeth George Foundation grant and holds an MFA in fiction from the New School. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, where she is the managing editor and director of educational programming at One Story and the co-host of the reading series Ditmas Lit. Her debut short story collection, Mystery Lights, is forthcoming from Tin House Books in summer 2024.


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.

We advance this mission through Poets & Writers Magazine, the leading publication of its kind; a website that provides extensive free resources for writers as well as a lively online community; professional development opportunities for writers; and grants that pay writers for giving readings and leading writing workshops in small towns and big cities across the country. 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.


Rachel Schuder
Director of Development & Marketing