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Three Ohioans Awarded Creative Writing Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts

Three Ohio writers have been selected as recipients of 2020 National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowships, each receiving $25,000 to support the development of new works of prose.

Renée Branum of Cincinnati, Claire Luchette of Cleveland Heights, and Brian Ascalon Roley of Montgomery were among 36 recipients awarded fellowships for federal Fiscal Year 2020.

A program launched by the National Endowment for the Arts in 1967, the Creative Writing Fellowships alternate each year between poetry and prose. This year, nearly 1,700 applications were submitted to the program seeking support for the development of prose, defined in a Thursday National Endowment for the Arts media release as “works of fiction and creative nonfiction, such as memoirs and personal essays.”

“The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support our nation’s writers and translators and their efforts to expand our literary landscape through their artistry, creativity, and dedication,” said Mary Anne Carter, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts.
Since its impetus, the Creative Writing Fellowship program has awarded more than 3,500 fellowships totaling more than $55 million, the release stated. The fellowships are often used by recipients to set aside time for writing, research, travel, or career and professional development opportunities.

"The literary talents of Ohio's writers showcase the unique voices and viewpoints that contribute to the creative spirit of our state," said Ohio Arts Council Executive Director Donna S. Collins. "The National Endowment for the Arts' support of individual artists living and working in Ohio is always greatly appreciated. We congratulate Renée, Claire, and Brian on receiving this tremendous honor."

Biographies for the Ohioans selected for fellowships follow:

Renee Branum. Photo by Alyssa KonermannRenée Branum | Cincinnati
Renée is a writer and writing instructor living in Cincinnati. She graduated with an MFA in creative nonfiction from the University of Montana in 2017. In 2013, she received an MFA in fiction from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, where she was a Truman Capote Fellow and recipient of the Prairie Lights Jack Leggett Fiction Prize. Her work has appeared in publications such as The Georgia Review, Narrative Magazine, and The Gettysburg Review, with work forthcoming in Brevity and Alaska Quarterly Review. Her essay “Certainty” was awarded first prize in The Los Angeles Review’s Fall 2016 nonfiction contest, and her essay “Bolt” received first place recognition in The Florida Review’s 2017 editors’ awards. She received two Pushcart nominations for work published in 2017. Renée is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in fiction and working to complete her first novel. Learn more about Renée at

Claire Luchette. Photo by Rob WetzlerClaire Luchette | Cleveland Heights
Claire is a writer whose first novel is forthcoming from FSG. Her short fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in VQR, Ploughshares, Granta, Kenyon Review, Glimmer Train, Iowa Review, and Indiana Review. Her story "New Bees" won a 2020 Pushcart Prize. Claire, a graduate of the MFA program at the University of Oregon who studied English at Brown, has received grants and scholarships from the MacDowell Colony, the Corporation of Yaddo, the Elizabeth George Foundation, the Millay Colony, Lighthouse Works, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She currently serves as the 2019-20 Hopkins post-graduate fellow in fiction at John Carroll University. Learn more about Claire at

Brian Ascalon Roley. Photo by J. Sheldon Photography

Brian Ascalon Roley | Montgomery
Brian is a writer and professor whose books include the award-winning novel American Son (W.W. Norton; Christian Bourgeois Editeur), which was a Los Angeles Times best book, New York Times notable book, Kiriyama Pacific Rim Prize finalist, Salon Magazine best of the month selection, and winner of the Association for Asian American Studies Prose Book Award of 2003, among other honors. His fiction, literary essays, and poetry have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, and his collection, The Last Mistress of Jose Rizal and Other Stories, was released in April 2016. Brian, a 2018 Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award recipient, is currently a professor of English at Miami University of Ohio. Learn more about Brian at

The next funding round for the National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowships program will be focused on poetry. The application deadline is March 11.

For more information, visit

Established by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the National Endowment for the Arts supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. Visit to learn more.
The Ohio Arts Council is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically. Connect with the OAC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or visit our website at


Article by Amanda Etchison, Communications Strategist

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