The Oxford American has named KaToya Ellis Fleming of Georgia the winner of the 2019 Jeff Baskin Writers Fellowship, which will bring Fleming to Little Rock in September to serve a nine-month apprenticeship with the magazine. Fleming will work on her manuscript “Finding Frank,” a work that explores Georgia novelist Frank Yerby’s relationship to his native Augusta against the backdrop of Fleming’s own connection to the city, which she calls “a world both different and unchanged.”
“KaToya Ellis Fleming’s ‘Finding Frank’ pits the forces of forgetting against the forces of memory,” fellowship judges Kevin Brockmeier, Michelle García and Jamie Quatro said in a press release. “In prose that’s both welcoming and dexterous, it shows how a life, every life, from the most famous to the most private, will eventually be subsumed by time, yet through close attention and honest respect, the book takes the gray of those lives and restores them to color. It has the potential to be an act not only of excavation, but of resurrection.”
The fellowship, established in 2017 to honor the memory of North Little Rock librarian Jeff Baskin, is funded with support from John Gaudin & Dr. C.E. Patton, Louise Terzia and the family of Baskin, and affords an emerging writer a $10,000 living stipend and housing during the editorial apprenticeship at the Oxford American.
The fellowship’s inaugural recipient was Molly McCully Brown, author of the stellar (and deeply unsettling) book of poetry, “The Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded.” Brown has been traveling the world as part of her Amy Lowell Poetry Traveling Scholarship, and is writing two new books for Persea Books (forthcoming in 2020).
Houstonite Micah Fields, the fellowship’s second recipient, has been penning compelling pieces about everything from oil pumpjacks to mattress peddlers (and, for the Arkansas Times, novelty donuts), and has scored a job as editor at the Montana Historical Society and a book deal with W.W. Norton & Co. for his project on his native city’s development and struggle with natural disasters.