Author Neema Avashia Awarded 2022 Foundation Trust Writing and Teaching Fellowship at Follow Your Art Community Studios (FYACS)

Boston-based teacher and writer’s debut book, “Another Appalachia,” comes out in March

MELROSE, MA December 9, 2021—Boston-based writer and teacher Neema Avashia has been awarded the 2022 Foundation Trust BIPOC Writer’s Fellowship at Follow Your Art Community Studios (FYACS) in Melrose. Her debut essay collection, Another Appalachia: Coming Up Queer and Indian in a Mountain Place, launches in March 2022.

Avashia was born to Indian immigrant parents who moved to West Virginia in the early 70s. Her book of personal essays explores her identity as a queer, Desi, Appalachian woman and the lessons she learned in childhood about race and class, gender and sexuality that continue to inform the way she moves through the world today.

Avashia teaches civics in the Boston Public Schools and is working on her second essay collection, which examines her experiences breaking expectations again and again. “My hope is that my words can make space for others who similarly find themselves at odds with the societal expectations placed on them because of their identity,” said Avashia.

The $5k fellowship will enable Avashia to work on her second book while offering writing workshops to teens and adults as well as showcasing her debut collection at a public reading. “I’m honored to be the recipient of this fellowship and to have an opportunity to work with youth and other emerging writers who want to tell their stories through personal narrative,” Avashia said.

Since 2019, the Foundation Trust has offered artist fellowships at FYACS. “I’m thrilled to be able to extend our partnership with FYACS to offer the art center’s first-ever writing and teaching fellowship,” says Dr. Joseph Spinazzola, executive director of the Foundation Trust, whose mission includes promoting opportunities for underrepresented artists, including women, people of color, people with disabilities, and LGBTQ+ individuals. Learn more at: www.foundationtrust.org

The fellowship was a competitive application process initiated over the summer. “Neema’s work resonated with us because her stories are both deeply personal and universal. She tells stories of identity, belonging, family, and culture—the things that move all of us,” said Elizabeth Christopher, FYACS board member and coordinator of the Writers Studio at FYACS. “Her essays ask us to step into someone else’s shoes, to empathize with someone else’s experience.”

“We are so excited to introduce our community to Neema and her work,” said Kris Rodolico, executive director of FYACS, who urges the public to watch for upcoming writing workshops and events with Avashia. Those interested in pre-ordering Avashia’s book can do so at www.neemaavashia.com/another-appalachia.

Follow Your Art Community Studios is a 501(c)3 non-profit arts center located at 647 Main Street, Melrose. Through its Writers Studio, FYACS offers a place to write as well as workshops and occasional writing events. Learn more at www.FYAmelrose.org.