Ari Belathar, a Mexican poet and playwright in exile, is the Writers’ Room of Boston Fellow in Poetry. Ari facilitated creative writing and popular theatre workshops for indigenous women and children throughout Mexico from 1994-2001 and was a founding member of the first Mexican community radio station during the 1999 student strike at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. In 2001, while working as a student activist and independent journalist, she was kidnapped and tortured by the Mexican National Army. Ari escaped to Canada as a political refugee. There she served as Writer-in-Residence at the University of Windsor through PEN Canada’s Writers in Exile Network and as the first Writer-in-Residence at Brandon University in Manitoba. Ari has published a chapbook of poetry, The Cities I Left Behind by Radish Press and was the lead writer for The TAXI Project– a collective play about exile published by Scirocco Drama and originally produced by PEN Canada. Her work has also appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies around the world. Ari now lives with her partner, Hannah Hafter, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Anu Kandikuppa, the Gish Jen Fellow for Emerging Writers, has a Ph.D. in Finance and worked as an economics consultant for many years before she began writing fiction. To transition to a career in writing, Anu took fiction workshops at Grub Street and attended the Bread Loaf Conference for Writers then, seeking full immersion, enrolled in the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College, NC from where she received her MFA degree in 2015. Anu is currently working on a number of short stories that explore aspects of Indian culture and personality and emerge in a variety of forms including tales and epistles. She’s published academic papers in the field of economics, short essays in the Deccan Herald, and, more recently, fiction in the Kartika Review. Anu lives in Newton with her family.
Marika McCoola, the Ivan Gold Fiction Fellow, is the New York Times bestselling author of Baba Yaga’s Assistant, a graphic novel published in 2015 by Candlewick Press. Baba Yaga’s Assistant is the winner of the 2015 New England Book Award: Children’s, an Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) Notable Children’s Book, a Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) Great Graphic Novel for Teens, and a Junior Library Guild Selection. Marika holds an MFA in Writing for Children from Simmons College and also works as an illustrator. Marika currently teaches Studio Art, Illustration, and Children’s Literature online for the State University of New York, Empire State College, works as an indie bookseller at Porter Square Books, and teaches classes through the Emerson Umbrella Arts Center in Concord, Massachusetts.
Mike Sinert is the Writers’ Room of Boston Fellow in Nonfiction. He is a member of the 2015-16 Memoir Incubator class at GrubStreet and a former daily newspaper reporter. He has also been a public relations guy, a technology marketer and a taxi driver, and once owned two small shipping companies. Mike’s current work-in-progress, Stuffed: My Life in Three Bodies, is a memoir of his twenty-year, life and death struggle with binge eating disorder. Mike holds a Master’s in Business Administration from Northeastern University and he received his undergraduate degree from Brandeis University. He lives in Needham, Massachusetts with his wife, two kids and a golden retriever named Scout, though he’s not a dog kind of person.