Asali Solomon Wins Pew Center Fellowship
The author and professor of English is one of 12 Philadelphia area artists across disciplines to be selected for an unrestricted $75,000 grant and focused professional advancement opportunities from the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage.
Asali Solomon was on vacation in San Francisco when she got the news that she had been selected for one of only 12 fellowships this year from the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage.
“Things were already going pretty well, and then I received this email. I was ecstatic!” said the Haverford English professor. “I was reminded of that Courtney Love lyric, ‘the girl with the most cake.’ So much cake!”
Pew Fellowships provide unrestricted awards of $75,000 to individual Philadelphia-area artists who must be invited to apply. The Center also offers focused professional advancement resources, such as financial counseling and career development workshops, to its fellows. For Solomon, a fiction writer whose latest novel, 2021’s The Days of Afrekete, received rave reviews and landed on year-end best-of lists, the prize means time to focus on her craft while she is on leave from the College. And as a homegrown Philadelphian, it also means recognition from an organization that works to support and enrich the local arts scene and its makers.
“I felt very excited to get the invitation—a lot of absolute legends have received it,” said Solomon. “I also love that it's a Philadelphia thing. Not only was I born and raised—and apparently will die here—but Philadelphia is my fiction.”
At Haverford, Solomon has the Bertrand K. Wilbur Endowed Chair in the Humanities and directs the creative writing concentration. Her fiction—which includes the 2015 novel Disgruntled and a 2006 short story collection, Get Down—is deeply influenced by her hometown, and most of her writing is set there including, she said, what she’s working on now.
“I feel embraced by an institution that invests in the city, and part of an excellent cohort of artists,” said Solomon of the Pew Fellowship. “We had a Zoom meeting where we got to meet the other fellows for this year, and see/hear each others' work, and I was blown away by the range of artists and the depth of their commitment.”
Solomon is particularly excited about one of the other artists in this year’s cohort: Camille Acker, a fellow writer and visiting assistant professor of English at Haverford this year who is teaching the “Creative Fiction Writing” class this fall that Solomon usually teaches.
Solomon was “beyond thrilled” that Acker was also recognized this year, “not only because she is a great friend, but because, while it has not been true and perhaps will not be true again, the fellowship jury decided that one Black woman fiction writer was not enough.”