The Virginia G. Piper
Center for Creative Writing

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Photograph of Desert Nights, Rising Stars Fellows with sky in background

From left: 2019 Desert Nights, Rising Stars Fellows Sarah Rafael García, Halee Kirkwood, and Jabari Jawan Allen. Photographs by Kevin S Moul.

Conference Fellowships

Access and opportunity for the writing community

The Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing is proud to offer full and partial teaching fellowships for writers to teach at the Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference.

Created as a showcase for writers whose voices may not otherwise be heard at our conference, fellows are an integral part of our Desert Nights experience. By teaching alongside conference faculty, fellows impact the lives of conference attendees while being nationally recognized as prestigious Desert Nights fellows. Through this program, we seek to expand our sphere of discussion, looking towards a larger engagement of topics and people from all over the world.

Fellowship applications for the 2021 Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference are now open! The deadline for fellowships is July 29, 2020. Applicants will be notified by September 11. 

To learn more about fellowships, you can review the information below or submit a fellowship application

You can also meet our fellows, meet our faculty, or learn more about this year's conference.

Fellowship Eligibility

Fellowships for the Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference are open to writers of all backgrounds, genres, and levels of experience. Individuals should have some sort of history of literary activity—publication, teaching, community involvement, etc—but do not need to be published authors to apply, nor do they need an advanced degree in English, Creative Writing or a related field. At the same time, individuals could also have an extensive history of literary activity—multiple full-length publications, tenured teaching positions in higher education, so on and so forth. Writers of all backgrounds, genres, and skill levels are encouraged to apply.

Please note: current students in ASU's MFA in Creative Writing Program and any individuals who have been awarded a fellowship for the Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference within the past year are ineligible to apply. 

Fellowship Applications

Fellowship applications consist of the following elements:

  • Contact Information
  • Session Proposal
    • Session Title
    • Session Description
  • Statement of Merit
  • Professional Biography
  • Resume/CV

Please note: individuals may only submit one application for each year of the conference. Multiple submissions will not be accepted.

Session Proposals

Generally speaking, we are interested sessions with the following characteristics:

  • Engaging: lively, dynamic sessions with innovative content presented through generative exercises, workshops, readings, discussions, small group work, and other conference formats
  • Relevant: engage, explore, and advance current trends, topics, and issues in creative literature, publishing, and contemporary literature
  • Interdisciplinary: approach their topics through different genres, styles, art forms, perspectives, or fields
  • Inclusive: accurately portray and reflect the diversity of individuals within the larger literary community

As a conference focused on craft and education, we tend to avoid sessions focusing exclusively on literary theory or the business of writing (querying agents, getting published, marketing, etc). That being said, we welcome elements of either incorporated into larger proposals.

For examples of previous sessions, you can view past conference schedules.

Awards and Benefits

Individuals who are selected as conference fellows will be offered a full or partial fellowship for conference tuition, and may attend and participate in all regular conference offerings as they see fit.

Beyond presenting their session alongside nationally-recognized authors and conference faculty, fellows are invited to attend any special receptions, socials, or other conference events, and will be included in national promotions and publicity.

Fellows will also be formally honored at the conference with a brief ceremony on Friday evening before the keynote address.

Additional Financial Aid

At this time, no additional assistance for travel, lodging, or other financial assistance for fellows is available. Fellows are responsible for any additional costs incurred through their conference involvement.

This being said, we are happy to connect fellows with local hotels or other resources in Phoenix, Arizona, and can readily supply fellowship award documentation to any institutions or organizations who may be providing financial assistance. We also recommend checking in with your local arts commission or office of arts and culture for additional support. 

Fellowship Reflections

As part of their fellowship, individuals will also be required to complete a short essay reflecting on their Conference experience (250 - 500 words), due no later than April 1.


Application Process

Fellowship applications are evaluted by committee according to the strength of the session proposal, the individual's history of work, and overall fit within current conference offerings. 

Important Dates

The deadline for fellowship applications for the 2021 Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference is July 29, 2020. Please note: if you are resubmitting an application during an extension, please preface your title with "Resubmission." Applicants will be notified no later than September 11.

Apply for the Fellowship

To apply for a fellowship for this year's Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference, you can submit a fellowship application.

Become a Fellow

More Information

For more information about fellowships, contact Dana Tribke at