An Evening with BMI’s Fellows
October 5 7:00 pm
About the Event
In 2001, Las Vegas became home to the country’s first City of Asylum program, a BMI initiative that provides residencies to writers persecuted for their literary work. Since then, Las Vegas has welcomed a myriad of writers, scholars, and artists from around the world.
In an evening full of readings and conversations, celebrate City of Asylum’s 20th anniversary with current fellows Ahmed Naji and Jorge Olivera Castillo, Beverly Rogers Fellow Amanda Fortini, and help welcome to Las Vegas two new Shearing Fellows, poet Faylita Hicks and fiction writer Mary South.
Learn more about BMI’s City of Asylum program.
Amanda Fortini has written for The New York Times, The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, The New Republic, The Paris Review, New York, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Wired, Slate and Salon, among other publications. She has worked as an editor at Mirabella, The New York Review of Books, and Slate, and has been the William Kittredge Visiting Professor at the University of Montana. Her essays have been widely anthologized, including in Best American Political Writing and Best of Slate, and she was nominated for a James Beard Foundation Journalism Award. After several semesters as a lecturer in journalism at UNLV’s Greenspun College for Urban Affairs, Fortini has contributed articles and essays on Las Vegas, including several for The New Yorker, and an acclaimed cover story for California Sunday.
Faylita Hicks is the author of HoodWitch, a finalist for the 2020 Lambda Literary Award for Bisexual Poetry, among other accolades. They are the former Editor-in-Chief of Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review and the 2021 Poet-in-Residence of Civil Rights Corps. Their work has been published in American Poetry Review, Longreads, Poetry, Slate, Texas Observer, Yale Review, and others. They have an MFA from Sierra Nevada University and have received fellowships and residencies from Tin House, Lambda Literary, Jack Jones Literary Arts, Broadway Advocacy Coalition, The Dots Between, and the Right of Return USA.
Ahmed Naji is an Egyptian novelist and journalist born in Mansoura in 1985. He is the author of three books, Rogers (2007), Seven Lessons Learned from Ahmed Makky (2009), and The Use of Life (2014), as well as numerous blogs and other articles. He was also a journalist for Akhbar al-Adab, a state-funded literary magazine, and frequently contributed to other newspapers and websites including Al-Modon and Al- Masry Al-Youm. Naji has been a vocal critic of official corruption under the rule of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
Jorge Olivera Castillo is a poet, writer, television editor, journalist, and songwriter. For more than twenty-five years, Olivera Castillo worked as an independent journalist before being fired from The Cuban Institute of Radio and Television, due to his ideas and activities in support of freedom of speech. He became a political prisoner because of his journalistic work and was incarcerated for almost two years, including nine months of solitary confinement. Olivera Castillo has published six books of poetry and two short story collections. His literary works have been translated into several languages, including English, Italian, Czech, and Polish. At present, Olivera Castillo is writing his third collection of short stories, based on his experiences as a soldier in the African jungle during the Angolan Civil War. He has also completed a new collection of poetry and publication is forthcoming.
Mary South is the author of You Will Never Be Forgotten, which was a finalist for the PEN/Bingham Prize for a Debut Story Collection and longlisted for The Story Prize. Her fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, American Short Fiction, Conjunctions, NOON, Guernica, and elsewhere. She has received support from VCCA, the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, and the Sewanee Writers Conference. A graduate of the MFA program at Columbia University, she lives in New York and is working on a novel about health care, class, and late-capitalist metamorphosis for Farrar, Straus & Giroux.