Awards and fellowships

University of Pennsylvania ArtsEdge Residencies

ArtsEdge is a collaborative residency project designed to encourage the careers of emergent writers. ArtsEdge aims to support the work of emerging writers, to foster an environment that will inspire innovative writing, and to enrich West Philadelphia by inviting young writers here.

Residencies last for one week, and include housing and close affiliation with Penn’s writing communities. During the course of their residencies, writers will be invited to participate in readings, lectures, discussion groups, and more.

2013-2014 Resident

Photo credit: Lola Flash

A. Naomi Jackson
was born and raised in Brooklyn by West Indian parents. She studied fiction at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was awarded the 2013-2014 Maytag Fellowship for Excellence in Fiction to complete her first novel, Star Side of Bird Hill. She spent the summer of 2012 in Barbados researching and writing Star Side with the support of a Stanley Graduate Award for International Research from the University of Iowa. She traveled to South Africa on a Fulbright scholarship, where she received an M.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Cape Town. A graduate of Williams College, her work has appeared in brilliant corners, The Encyclopedia Project, Obsidian, The Caribbean Writer, and Sable. Her short story, “Ladies” was the winner of the 2012 BLOOM chapbook contest. She has been a resident at Hedgebrook and Vermont Studio Center and received the Archie D. and Bertha H. Walker scholarship at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. She co-founded the Tongues Afire creative writing workshop at the Audre Lorde Project in Brooklyn in 2006.

2012-2013 Resident

Dan Fishback (C'03) has been writing and performing in New York City since 2003. Major works include The Material World (2012), thirtynothing (2011) and You Will Experience Silence (2009), all directed by Stephen Brackett at Dixon Place. Fishback has received grants from the Franklin Furnace Fund (2010) and the Six Points Fellowship for Emerging Jewish Artists (2007-2009). He is a resident artist at the Hemispheric Institute for Performance & Politics at NYU (2012), and has enjoyed previous residencies at BAX/Brooklyn Arts Exchange (2010-2012), Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony. Previous works include No Direction Homo (P.S. 122, 2006), Please Let Me Love You (Dixon Place, 2006), Waiting for Barbara (Galapagos Art Space, 2006), boi with an i (Collective: Unconscious, 2004), and Assholes Speak Louder Than Words (Sidewalk Cafe, 2004). Also a performing songwriter, Fishback began his music career in the East Village's anti-folk scene. His band, Cheese On Bread, has toured Europe and North America in support of their two full-length albums, "Maybe Maybe Maybe Baby" (2004) and "The Search for Colonel Mustard" (2007), the latter of which was re-issued in Japan in 2010 on Moor Works Records. As a solo artist, Fishback has released several recordings, including "Sweet Chastity" (2005, produced by César Alvarez of The Lisps), and his latest, "The Mammal Years" (2012). He was a member of the movement troupe Underthrust, which collaborated with songwriter Kimya Dawson on several performances and videos. Fishback's essay, "Times Are Changing, Reb Tevye," was featured in the anthology "Mentsh: On Being Jewish & Queer" (Alyson Books, 2004). His visual installation, "Pen Pals," was featured in the 2011 Soho exhibition of the Pop-Up Museum of Queer History, for which he later served on the Selection Committee. Fishback frequently teaches workshops on performance composition and queer performance culture. He blogs at; his regular website is". Before graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in 2003, Fishback wrote a weekly column for the Daily Pennsylvanian, was heavily involved in anti-war activism, and organized events at Kelly Writers House.

2011-2012 Resident

Rolf Potts has reported from over sixty countries for dozens of major venues, including National Geographic Traveler, The New Yorker, Outside,, National Public Radio, and the Travel Channel. Rolf is perhaps best known for promoting the ethic of independent travel, and his book on the subject, Vagabonding, has been through thirteen printings and translated into several foreign languages. His newest book is Marco Polo Didn't Go There.

2010-2011 Resident

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Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz is the author of the non-fiction book Words in Your Face: A Guided Tour Through Twenty Years of the New York City Poetry Slam, (Soft Skull Press, 2008) as well as five books of poetry, most recently Everything is Everything (Write Bloody Press, 2010). Her writing has been published in a wide variety of places including McSweeney's Internet Tendancies, Rattle, Conduit, Barrelhouse, Pank, decomP, kill author, and La Petite Zine. She lives in New York City, where she helps run the NYC-Urbana Poetry series at the Bowery Poetry Club.

Aptowicz plans to use the ArtsEdge residency to work on a non-fiction book about the life and times of Thomas Dent Mutter, founder of the Philadelphia's Mutter Museum. An outspoken and eccentric young surgeon who worked in pre-Civil War America, Mutter revolutionized the art of surgery and helped to change people's perceptions – both in his field and with the general public – on numerous controversial topics of his time, including the treatment of the severely deformed, who were often ostracized as "monsters" by their communities. His substantial collection of unusual medical specimens became the basis of his namesake museum, which is still used by medical students today as well as having become a popular cult destination for Philadelphia tourists.

The Mutter Museum has granted Aptowicz full access to their museum, library and archives so that she may conduct her research for the book. Additionally, the Mutter Museum's Francis C. Wood Institute for the History of Medicine has awarded Aptowicz with a Wood Institute Travel Grant to help further fund and support her work on this project.

For more information about Cristin, please visit her website:

2009-2010 Residents

Liz Moore wrote most of her first novel, The Words of Every Song (Broadway, 2007), while an undergrad at Barnard College. The book, which centers on a fictional record company in New York City, draws partly on Liz's own experiences as a musician (Liz released her first album Backyards in 2007 as well). Liz obtained her MFA in Fiction from Hunter College, where she studied with Peter Carey, Colum McCann, and Nathan Englander. In the fall she'll be teaching Creative Writing and Composition at Holy Family University in Philadelphia. She still performs regularly, and is currently in what she hopes is the final stretch of her second novel. You can find her on the web at

Ricardo Zapata is an interdisciplinary artist born and raised in the multicultural melting pot of Miami. He graduated from the New World School of the Arts and then attended the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, Maryland. In 2007, Ricardo graduated with honors from the Maryland Institute College of Art earning a BFA degree consisting of a major in painting and a minor in art history. He recently earned his MFA degree with a concentration in painting and a certificate in graphic design from the University of Pennsylvania. His recent work incorporates multi-media large scale installation and two-dimensional works investigating the history of activism and the desire for transgression. Ricardo lives and works in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Photo credit: Ricardo Zapata

2008-2009 Residents

Greg Romero is a playwright/theater artist, originally from Louisiana. His works include The Most Beautiful Lullaby You've Ever Heard, The Milky Way Cabaret, The Mishumaa, and Dandelion Momma, and have been produced off-off Broadway by City Attic Theatre and Working Man's Clothes Productions, and across the country by Salvage Vanguard Theater, Rude Mechanicals Theatre Collective, Theater In My Basement, Specific Gravity Ensemble, and Actors Theatre of Louisville. Romero has also collaborated several times with electronic music composer Mike Vernusky on live performance projects including The Book of Remembrance and Forgetting, The Eulogy Project, and currently, Radio Ghosts, in a form they are calling "electro-theater." Romero received a BA in Liberal Arts from the Louisiana Scholars College and an MFA in Playwriting from The University of Texas-Austin where he held the James A. Michener Fellowship. He has taught Playwriting at The Eugene O'Neill National Theater Institute, The Wilma Theater, and Philadelphia Dramatists Center and taught Theater at The University of the Arts and Saint Joseph's University.

While completing his residency, Greg developed close ties with the Kelly Writers house community and quickly jumped into Penn's writing scene. He presented two works-in-progress at the KWH (The Travel Plays and Dandelion Momma) and helped us forge a new relationship with the lovely people of the Philadelphia Dramatists Center (PDC). Greg also received high marks as a creative writing instructor; his course sent students exploring secret stairwells and nooks around campus to think and write about space and its potential uses.

Adrienne Gale's art deals with language, specifically etymology and the connections that exist between words through their histories. Using her own visual symbols of trees, roots, seeds, and nests, Adrienne explores language in a variety of media. Originally from Connecticut, Adrienne was the 2006-2008 Fellow at the Scuola Internazionale di Grafica, in Venice, Italy. Adrienne received her MFA in Book Arts/Printmaking from The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA and her BFA in Painting from Boston University.