We are excited to announce our 2020 Bainbridge Residents: Anne Liu Kellor, Kofi Opam, Rashaan Meneses, and Frances Lee.
They each come to our Issue 11 topic, “Actionable Storytelling,” from a unique and different perspective, and our hope is that their collective voices will help to set the tone for our issue, which investigates breaking points, unlearning history, and creating new narratives — for ourselves and for others. They will be among the 12-16 voices we publish for Issue 11, which launches at the end of January. Below, get a glimpse into who our four extraordinary residents are, and what work they’ll be pursuing during their residency in February.
Anne Liu Kellor is a multiracial Chinese American writer, teacher, editor, and mother. Her essays have appeared in publications such as Longreads, The New England Review, The Normal School, Fourth Genre, Vela Magazine, Literary Mama, Waking Up American: Coming of Age Biculturally (Seal Press), and more. Anne has received fellowships for her work from Hedgebrook, Jack Straw, 4Culture, and Hypatia-in-the-Woods. Her memoir manuscript, Heart Radical: A Search for Language, Love, and Belonging was selected by Cheryl Strayed as the 1st runner-up in Kore Press’s 2018 contest. Born and raised in Seattle, Anne teaches at the Hugo House, leads writing retreats on Whidbey Island, and works as an editor and writing coach.
Anne writes of the topics she interrogates in her writing:
“As a writer of memoir, personal essays, and lyric essays, I seek to examine my silences and to engage with the world with empathy. In my work I explore themes such as my multiracial and bilingual heritage, desire, impermanence, home, belonging, language, paradox, selfishness, and generosity. I write to communicate—first, with myself, and then, with others—and my voice is intimate and conversational. I resist the idea that vulnerable or ‘confessional’ writing is somehow ‘less than,’ for this is a myth born of patriarchy. I believe the world needs, more than ever, for more of us to step forward and share our most personal stories. To disrupt the dominant culture of silence, secrecy, and shame.”
Kofi Daniel Opam is a Black transgender writer from Queens, New York. A recent Iowa Arts Fellow, Kofi has seen their writing published in The Atlas Review and The Gallatin Review. Their work explores mythology, surrealism, and horror in the Caribbean, West Africa, and North America, and they are a second-year in the Nonfiction Writing Program at the University of Iowa.
In talking about the driving forces behind their work, Kofi writes:
“My aesthetic is influenced deeply by the surreal, uncanny, gothic, terrifying, and strange. This is because, I think, of my experiences as a marginalized person: from multiple gender-related surgeries and the twin violences of bigotry and fetishization, to the inherited trauma and constant surveillance that all Black people live with. I use the languages of mythology and spirituality to get at these sensations in different ways, and from different angles. If being a multiply-marginalized person is like cleaving a double consciousness into endless fractals, my work is driven by the desire to stitch myself back together — to write about queerness in Haitian Vodou as a way of healing the wounds separating my ancestry from my gender.”
Rashaan Alexis Meneses is a past resident of The MacDowell Colony and The International Retreat for Writers at Hawthornden Castle, UK. She has received fellowships from the Jacob K. Javits Program, Well Spring Retreat in Massachusetts, Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing, and an Ancinas Scholarship for the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley, California. Her fiction and non-fiction have been featured in various journals and anthologies, including Kartika Review, Puerto Del Sol, New Letters, BorderSenses, Kurungabaa, The Coachella Review, Pembroke Magazine, Doveglion Press, and the anthology Growing Up Filipino II: More Stories for Young Adults. When she’s not writing or teaching, she’s hiking the California Coast with her family.
Speaking to what influences her work, Rashaan writes:
“My stories track the journeys my grandparents ventured from the Philippines and Mexico. Every time someone asks about my background or about my physical features, I am made to cross an ocean, made to trek through deserts and borderlands, made to explain my presence. Every word I write is summoned by my mixed race heritage, and the thousands of miles my family travelled. My work is very much inspired by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Louise Erdrich, Sandra Cisneros, and Marlon James. Thanks to them, I draw deeply from characters and narratives that don’t fall easily into binaries of black, white, good, or bad.”
Frances Lee is an essayist, cultural practitioner and communications professional hailing from Texas. They are a trans and queer second generation Chinese American currently based in Bremerton and Seattle, WA. Their creative practices are animated by a deep inquiry into the everyday practices and norms that structure the stories we tell one another. Frances’ writing has appeared in Autostraddle, CBC The Sunday Edition, bitch media, and more.
Frances writes of their creative process:
“I utilize the spiritual practice of making myself vulnerable to attack and condemnation, which has become a hallmark of my writing. In doing so, I invite readers to examine destructive groupthink behaviors or ideologies they reproduce, choose another path and start to heal. Rather than pump out thinkpieces on a regular basis like other social justice authors, I first observe, meditate and understand harmful cultural norms before releasing essays once or twice a year to act as an intervention.”
Join us in welcoming Anne, Kofi, Rashaan, and Frances to our Bainbridge Residency. You can see our past residents here, as well as more about what they will experience at The Bloedel Bunkhouse in February here.