Strange Cargo

On September 12 at Skylight Books, we released Strange Cargo, an Emerging Voices Anthology, PEN USA's first collection of stories, poems and nonfiction pieces by EV Fellows from 1997 to 2010.

Skylight was packed for this special celebration, with selected readings by contributing writers, including Natashia Deón, Cara Chow, Davin Malasarn, Pireeni Sundaralingam, Monica Carter, Marytza Rubio, Sylvia Sukop, Denise Uyehara, Mehnaz Turner, and an introduction by Janet Fitch, who  wrote the foreword to the book.

We sold nearly one hundred copies of the impressive collection, for which all proceeds benefit PEN USA's Emerging Voices Fellowship. If you weren't able to come out for the release, you can still pick up a copy of the book at Skylight Books, or through our online store at



PEN Center USA is proud to announce the release of Strange Cargo, an Emerging Voices Anthology. This book will include stories, poems and nonfiction pieces by Emerging Voices Fellows from 1997 to 2010. 

There is a crucial point when a writer begins to come into his or her own and locate their authentic voice, a point when a writer can greatly benefit from support and guidance. This is where the PEN Center Emerging Voices program steps in and provides writers with mentors, craft classes, and the opportunity to develop creatively. The result is that talented writers come away from the program empowered and with tools to begin to publish. Read this anthology and discover for yourself the dazzling writers coming out of the Emerging Voices program. 

- Mary Otis, author of Yes, Yes, Cherries and an EV Mentor 2008-2009

[These] are voices which demand to be heard, and the reader is grateful that...they have received the help, guidance and encouragement to allow their unique sound, their irreplaceable vision, to reach the reading world.

- Janet Fitch, author of White Oleander, from the foreword

Please join us on Sunday, September 12 @ 5 pm to celebrate the release of Strange Cargo with selected readings by contributing writers, followed by wine and refreshments, at Skylight Books in Los Feliz.


The following writers will be reading at this Sunday's event, with an introduction by Janet Fitch:

Janet Fitch is the author of the novels White Oleander and Paint It Black.  Her short stories have appeared in anthologies and journals such as Los Angeles Noir, Black Clock, Room of One's Own, and Black Warrior Review. She teaches creative writing in the MPW program at USC, and is writing a novel set during the Russian Revolution. Photo credit: Claudia Kunin

Natashia Deón is a 2010 Bread Loaf Scholarship recipient, PEN Emerging Voice Fellow, Highlights Foundation Scholarship recipient, and award-winning screenwriter. She is penning her debut novel, The Spinning Wheel, a dark journey of three outcast women who, on the eve of the Civil War, are fighting the battle of their lives. Deón is a California native, practicing attorney and the first generation of her family to be born outside of East Tallassee, Alabama, since American slavery. Photo credit: Whitney Pastorek

Cara Chow was a 2001 Emerging Voices Fellow. "Fall Dance" will appear in the novel Bitter Melon in Spring 2011, published by Egmont USA. A native of Hong Kong, Cara grew up in the Richmond District of San Francisco, where this story is set. She currently resides in the Los Angeles area with her husband and son.

Davin Malasarn is a writer and microbiologist from Sherman Oaks, California. In 2008, he was an Emerging Voices Fellow, a finalist in Glimmer Train’s Very Short Fiction Contest, and first runner-up in Opium Magazine’s 500-Word Memoir Contest. Two of his stories have been nominated for Pushcart Prizes. His fiction has appeared in The Los Angeles Review, Rosebud, Night Train and other literary journals, and he is a staff editor at SmokeLong Quarterly.

Pireeni Sundaralingam was born in Sri Lanka and is co-editor of Indivisible: An Anthology of Contemporary South Asian American Poetry (U. Arkansas Press, 2010). Her own poetry has appeared in journals such as Ploughshares, World Literature Today and The Progressive, as well as anthologies such as W.W. Norton’s Language for a New Century: Poetry from the Middle East, Asia and Beyond (2008). It has been translated into 5 languages and been published in Sweden, Ireland, England, and the U.S. A cognitive scientist, Pireeni has given papers on the connections between the human brain and poetry at MOMA (New York), the Exploratorium (San Francisco) and Studio Olafur Eliasson (Berlin). She was a PEN Emerging Voice Fellow in 2003. Photo credit: Ibarionex Perello.

Monica Carter lives in Los Angeles, California, and is a 2010 Emerging Voices Fellow. Her work will appear in the forthcoming issue of Pale House II. She is the owner and curator of her own website dedicated to international literature, Salonica World Lit. Ms. Carter is working on Eating the Apple, a psychological novel set in Manhattan in the 1930s. Photo credit: Whitney Pastorek

Marytza Rubio is a writer from Santa Ana, California. She was a 2008 Emerging Voices Fellow and received a Bread Loaf-Rona Jaffe Foundation Scholarship in 2010. She writes about Latinas, voodoo and animals.

Sylvia Sukop writes about art, faith, community and other good causes. Her memoir, Difficult Light, is framed by the death of her youngest brother, Alex, within an intentional community of organic farmers in eastern Washington. The memoir grew out of an extensive series of photographs documenting Alex’s life and is in part a meditation on the role of photography in intimacy, loss and memory. A first-generation American raised in rural Pennsylvania, Sylvia is a graduate of Bucknell University and of NYU/International Center of Photography, and a grateful recipient of the 2009 Emerging Voices Fellowship. She co-founded MMIX Los Angeles Writers with her EV cohort in 2009, and is a contributing writer to Flaunt and Exposure magazines and the political blog The Huffington PostPhoto credit: Bonnie Kaplan.

Denise Uyehara is an award-winning performance artist, writer and playwright whose work has been presented in London, Tokyo, Helsinki, Vancouver and across the United States. She is the recipient of numerous recognitions of excellence which include a mid-career COLA Fellowship from the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs and funding from the Asian Cultural Council. She was also a Poets & Writers "Writer on Site" at Beyond Baroque and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Her book Maps of City and Body: Shedding Light on the Performances of Denise Uyehara (Kaya Press) documents her recent works. Uyehara is a frequent lecturer at the University of California, Irvine and a founding member of the Sacred Naked Nature Girls. She was a PEN Emerging Voice Fellow in 1999. Photo credit: Jen Long.

Mehnaz Turner was born in Pakistan and raised in southern California. She was a 2009 Emerging Voices Fellow.  Her poems have appeared in: The Journal of Pakistan Studies, Cahoots Magazine, The Pedestal Magazine, Asia Writes and An Anthology of California Poets. She is currently at work on her first poetry collection, Tongue-tied: A Memoir in Poems.

Emerging Voices is a literary fellowship program that aims to provide new writers, who lack access, with the tools they will need to launch a professional writing career. Over the course of the year, each Emerging Voices fellow participates in: a professional mentorship; hosted Q & A evenings with prominent local authors; a series of Master classes focused on genre; and two public readings. This project is supported in part by grants from the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, The James Irvine Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. For more info, contact: