Candelaria Fletcher receives prestigious NEA Creative Writing Fellowship

Harrison Candelaria Fletcher
Harrison Candelaria Fletcher

The National Endowment for the Arts announced this month that Colorado State University’s Harrison Candelaria Fletcher, an associate professor in the Department of English, is among 35 writers around the country being awarded the prestigious 2022 Creative Writing Fellowship in Prose.

This year’s fellowships of $25,000 each enable the recipients to set aside time for writing, research, travel and general career development. Fellows are selected through an anonymous process and judged on the artistic excellence of the work sample they provided. The fellowships are highly competitive – more than 2,000 eligible applications were received for the 2022 fellowships.

“We are excited to support the 2022 NEA Creative Writing Fellows in their careers, affording them the time and means and encouragement to focus on their writing,” said the NEA’s Director of Literary Arts Amy Stolls. “We look forward to reading their works in years to come and appreciate their dedication to enriching our culture through their words.”

Other honors

Candelaria Fletcher, who joined CSU in 2016, is the author of Presentimiento: A Life in Dreams, winner of the Autumn House Press Nonfiction Prize, autobiography finalist for the International Latino Book Award, and a Kirkus Reviews Best Indies Memoirs of 2017 selection. His first book, Descanso For My Father, won a Colorado Book Award for Creative Nonfiction and Independent Publisher Book Awards Bronze Medal for Creative Nonfiction.

Cover of Descanso For My Father“This is such a gift,” he said. “After the year we’ve all had, this fellowship couldn’t have come at a better time. I’m so honored to be among these writers. I hope to use the fellowship doing what I enjoy most: hitting the road in search of stories.”

During the fellowship, he’s planning to take an extended road trip through New Mexico to gather research and continue writing about erased histories, ghosts and miracles for a new book he’s putting together. He also hopes to compile a proposal for an essay anthology exploring in-between spaces in race, culture, ethnicity, landscape, identity and language.

New book coming in March

Candelaria Fletcher’s newest book, Finding Querencia: Essays from In-Between, for which the NEA Fellowship was awarded, is forthcoming in March from the Mad Creek Books Machete Series, which “showcases books that break new aesthetic ground from authors whose writing has historically been marginalized, ignored, and passed over.”

Finding Querencia draws inspiration from Gloria Anzaldua’s notion of a borderlands as “an artificial line between us and them, a place in a constant transition, the province of the forbidden and the prohibited, the mongrel and the mulatto, the half-breed and the half-dead … anyone who dares cross over or pass through the confines of normal.”

The essays are written in the persona of “coyote,” New Mexican slang for mixed, through which the narrator attempts to reconcile the hyphenated elements within his character, including his whiteness as the son of an Anglo man who died when he was an infant and a Hispanic woman with roots generations deep. Equally important are explorations of memory, imagination and language.

Cover of Finding Querencia“The voice in these essays, like the speaker himself, is one in search of itself,” Candelaria Fletcher said. “Ultimately, the book seeks a place of empathy, respect and gratitude for the cultures, ancestors and geographies accompanying the narrator on his journey.”

Widely published work

Candelaria Fletcher’s work has appeared widely in such venues as New Letters, Puerto del Sol and The Touchstone Anthology of Contemporary Creative Nonfiction. His honors include a New Letters Literary Award, High Desert Journal Obsidian Prize, Sonora Review Essay Award, Juxtaprose Nonfiction Award, Pushcart Prize Special Mention and Best American Essays Notable selection. In 2017, he was named among the “Top Ten New Latinx Authors” by Latino Stories. A former columnist, feature writer and beat reporter at newspapers throughout the West, he is also a core faculty member in the MFA in Writing Program at Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Since 1967, the Arts Endowment has awarded more than 3,600 Creative Writing Fellowships totaling over $57 million. Many American recipients of the National Book Award, National Book Critics Circle Award, and Pulitzer Prize in Poetry and Fiction were recipients of National Endowment for the Arts fellowships early in their careers. Visit to browse bios and artist statements from all of the 2022 recipients and past Creative Writing Fellows.