Announcing The Adroit Journal’s 2018 Djanikian Scholars!

In honor of the contributions renowned poet Gregory Djanikian (b. 1949) has made to the field and study of literature, The Adroit Journal is proud to announce the inaugural class of Gregory Djanikian Scholars in Poetry—six promising, exciting, emerging poets. All emerging poets who have not published full-length collections were eligible for submission—regardless of age, geographic location, and educational status.

Selected from a competitive pool of international applicants, Djanikian Scholars will receive cash prizes and publication. A complete list of this year’s winners, finalists, and semifinalists is available online:

The inaugural class of Gregory Djanikian Scholars in Poetry includes Kristin Chang (of San Jose, Calif.), Robin Estrin (of Santa Cruz, Calif.), Paige Lewis (of Tallahassee, Fla.), Brandon Melendez (of Cambridge, Mass.), Michael M. Weinstein (of New Haven, Conn.), and Keith S. Wilson (of Chicago, Ill.). More information about each scholar is available below.

“We’re thrilled to support the impressive efforts of these emerging writers, and to recognize their important contributions to the fabric of the literary community today,” writes founder and editor-in-chief Peter LaBerge. “We look forward to witnessing the growth of these and other writers as they continue to develop their literary gifts, talents, and pursuits.”

Finalists for 2018 Djanikian Scholar recognition include Grady Chambers (of Philadelphia, Pa.), Aidan Forster (of Greenville, S.C.), and Shelley Wong (of Long Beach, Calif.). Finalists will each receive Djanikian’s latest collection, as well as publication.

Semifinalists include Alex Chertok (of Dryden, N.Y.), Lyrik Courtney (of Decatur, Ga.), Kate Gaskin (of Montgomery, Ala.), Matthew Gellman (of Brooklyn, N.Y.), Morgan Levine (of Houston, Tex.), Alycia Pirmohamed (of Edinburgh, Scotland), and Joey Reisberg (of Towson, Md.).

About the 2018 Djanikian Scholars

Kristin Chang is nineteen years old, and lives in New York. Her chapbook is forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press later this year.

Robin Estrin lives in Santa Cruz, California, where she teaches creative writing. Her poetry has appeared in the Chicago Quarterly Review, Catamaran Literary Reader, Potluck Magazine, and Miramar Poetry Journal, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Paige Lewis is the author of the chapbook Reasons to Wake You (Tupelo Press, 2018). Their poems have appeared in Poetry, American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, the Georgia Review, Best New Poets 2017, and elsewhere.

Brandon Melendez is a Mexican-American poet from California. He is a National Poetry Slam Finalist, Rustbelt Poetry Slam Finalist, and two-time Berkeley Grand Slam Champion, and is currently an MFA student studying poetry at Emerson College.

Michael M. Weinstein holds a B.A. from Northwestern University and a Ph.D. in English from Harvard University, and has received fellowships from the Fulbright Foundation, Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and elsewhere. He teaches Russian literature at Yale University.

Keith S. Wilson is an Affrilachian Poet, Cave Canem Fellow, and graduate of the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop. His debut collection, Fieldnotes on Ordinary Love, is forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press.

About The Adroit Journal

At its foundation, The Adroit Journal has its eyes focused ahead, seeking to showcase what its global staff of writers sees as the future of poetry, prose, and art. The journal hosts the annual Adroit Prizes for Poetry and Prose, the Gregory Djanikian Scholars Program, and the free Adroit Journal Summer Mentorship Program.

Featured in Best American Poetry, Pushcart Prizes: Best of the Small Presses, The New York Times, Teen Vogue, and NPR, the journal is home to the voices of Terrance Hayes, Franny Choi, D. A. Powell, Lydia Millet, NoViolet Bulawayo, Ocean Vuong, Eve L. Ewing, Ned Vizzini, Fatimah Asghar, and Danez Smith, among many others.

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Peter LaBerge

Peter LaBerge founded The Adroit Journal in 2010, as a high school sophomore. His work appears in Crazyhorse, Harvard Review, Indiana Review, Iowa Review, Kenyon Review Online, Pleiades, and Tin House, among others. He is the recipient of a 2020 Pushcart Prize.

  1. Congrats to these winners, but I’d be VERY interested to know how the selection process was done (noticing that there seems to be a pretty cultivated gender split, and then Asian and Mexican Americans, a black person, a trans/lgbtq representative, and a person with a typically Judaic surname). I don’t mean to knock any individual contributions of these winners, but rather point to what could be an oddity in the selection process by the selection committee.

    Of course, this seemingly carefully selected group could be the result of pure coincidence. But if I were a straight white guy with a name like "Joe Smith" or "Mike Jones," I might wonder about how much of the decision process was based upon perceived biography or background (based on surname etymology) and how much was just based upon craft and talent. (I’m not a swm.)

  2. HOLY $%!& I’m glad someone else said this. it’s not just this journal tho…the poetry community as a whole needs to have a frank conversation with itself about what "representation" really means…. But congrats to these fine poets! And condolences to anyone who paid money to enter this contest and maybe didnt receive the fairest reading of their ms…

  3. I’m grateful as well that someone else has 1) noticed this & 2) said this! Congratulations to these poets, but it’s true that the "representation" is unworldly "neat."

  4. Also, one last thing. It is interesting that one of the semi-finalists, Kate Gaskin, also serves on Adroit’s staff to some capacity (as a Poetry Reader). Doesn’t that usually lead to an individual having to recuse themselves from these kinds of competitions?

  5. Kate joined the journal’s staff after the release of this year’s Djanikian Scholars cohort.

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