The mission of Undocupoets is to promote the work of undocumented poets and raise consciousness about the structural barriers that they face in the literary community. We believe in supporting all poets, regardless of immigration status.
In 2015, Marcelo Hernandez Castillo, Javier Zamora, and Christopher Soto founded the Undocupoets Campaign to protest the discriminatory behavior of many first-book publishing contests in poetry, which prohibited undocumented poets from applying. On the Apogee journal website, the Undocupoets published an open petition asking ten highly visible and renowned first-book poetry contests to update their guidelines to reconsider and update the language stating U.S. citizenship as a requirement for submission/publication. The campaign was successful and, with the help of the Undocupoets, the guidelines at all ten contests were altered (to varying degrees) to reflect more inclusive publishing. For their work, the Campaign’s founders were awarded the Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award, established by Poets & Writers.
Following the petition, the Undocupoets released several interviews and news articles, as well as hosted events and published a literary magazine feature to celebrate the work of undocumented poets. Some of the organizations with whom the Undocupoets have also collaborated include: Asian American Writers Workshop, Best American Poetry Blog, Canto Mundo, Fusion News, Lambda Literary Foundation, Southern Humanities Review, Split This Rock, VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, and more. In 2016, the inaugural Undocupoets Fellowship was announced. In early 2017, the first Undocupoet Fellowships were awarded.
Steering the 2017–2018 Undocupoets Campaign are Marcelo Hernandez Castillo, Janine Joseph, and Esther Lin.
2018 Undocupoets Fellowship Overview
The Undocupoets Fellowship, in partnership with Amazon Literary Partnership and the Sibling Rivalry Press Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit private foundation, will grant TWO $500 fellowships, with no strings attached, to undocumented or formerly undocumented poets to help defray the cost of poetry-related submission fees.
This fellowship is intended for any writers who are currently undocumented or who were formerly undocumented in the United States. There is no application fee.
Please submit up to 10 pages of poetry, with no more than one poem per page, per individual. In addition, please include a cover letter with a bio and brief description of your current work or manuscript-in-progress.
At least one of the two fellowships awarded will be given to LGBTQ undocumented poets, per an agreement with Sibling Rivalry Press. Please indicate on your bio if you identify as LGBTQ.
While no single fellowship recipient will receive more than $500 on any given year, fellowships can be awarded to the same individual for multiple years.