Five Writers in Residence announced Join a reception this Friday at the Center

The Center for the Arts is pleased to announce the five dynamic writers selected as the 2024 Mountain Words Writer-in-Residence cohort. The group includes award-winning Nigerian poet, ​​Okwudili Nebeolisa; Steinbeck Fellow and Pushcart Prize finalist Amanda Rizkalla; award-winning fiction writer Charlie Sorrenson; local poet and Crested Butte town council member, Anna Fenerty; and celebrated speculative fiction novelist Phil Coleman, who also is the residency’s first Western Colorado University Creative Writing MFA graduate student. The residency provides the tools sacred to any writer: time, space, and funds to meaningfully focus on their writing.

Nebeolisa is the author of Terminal Maladies, (Autumn House Press, 2024), selected by Nicole Sealey as the winner of the 2023 Center for African American Poetry and Poetics Prize. He is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop where he was a Provost Fellow and won the Prairie Lights John Leggett Prize for Fiction.

Rizkalla is a 2023-24 Steinbeck Fellow at San Jose State University. Last year, she was the 2022-23 Hoffman-Halls Emerging Artist Fellow at the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and appears in Boston Review, No Tokens Journal, The Fabulist, and elsewhere. A graduate of Stanford University, she has been awarded a grant from the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund and residencies from Blue Mountain Center, Monson Arts, Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, Djerassi, and Hedgebrook.

Sorrenson is a queer, trans writer who grew up in Indiana and New Zealand. A third-year fiction candidate at UC Irvine, he was a 2023 Lambda Scholar and a finalist for the 2023 Barry Hannah Prizse in Fiction. His work is published or forthcoming in Michigan Quarterly Review and Apogee, among other publications, and he is a proud alum of the Tin House and Clarion Writers’ Workshops.

Fenerty, local poet, playwright and politician, was born on a futon in Crested Butte and raised in the mountains of Colorado’s western slope. She moved to India when she was sixteen, sparking a wanderlust that has fueled globe-trotting explorations and provided ample fodder for her writing. She has explored the foothills of the Himalayas, trespassed rain-soaked Irish cemeteries, and crisscrossed the United States in a Subaru called Roadrunner. When she’s not writing, she can be found wandering high alpine landscapes or watching the people pass by on a bench in the sun.

Coleman writes speculative fiction and adventure novels for younger audiences. His works include The Quickborn Odyssey and The Quickwild Odyssey for upper middle-grade readers, and Riddled Worlds, When James Fell, and Lockspell for young adults. His books and stories are all about taking an idea and then pushing it far beyond the bounds of our own reality. In addition to independently publishing through In Otherworlds Books, he has now joined the Western Colorado University genre fiction program in pursuit of his MFA. With a love of the mountains, he has been a member of the Crested Butte community since 2011. He is currently working on a steampunk fantasy trilogy intersecting magic, science, and resilient kids.

While here, the three visiting writers stay in homes in downtown Crested Butte donated by part-time residents, while enjoying perks and swag from local businesses. In addition to writing and enjoying the community, the 2024 cohort will present to students at the Crested Butte Community School, and as a crescendo to their time, will read their work at the Mountain Words Literary Festival on May 24 – 26.

For residency founder and Mountain Words Festival Director Brooke MacMillan, the program is one the most treasured aspects of her work. “We’re so excited to host this group of incredible writers. Each represents a vital piece of a larger narrative in this unique moment in time, and we’re thrilled at what we can learn from them,” said MacMillan. “Our warm and vibrant community is an ideal setting for creative inspiration and expression, and during off-season, we’re so fortunate to receive an outpouring of support from the local community to host the writers in style.” 

Please join us in welcoming them to town Friday, May 10, from 5–7 pm at the Center for drinks, bites and compelling conversation.  

More information on the residency and Mountain Words Festival can be found at

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