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Photos of five author mentors  
Write Like Us seeks students with an interest in creative writing who identify as black, indigenous, or persons of color for eight mentee scholarships.

Working with Write Like Us mentors, mentees will emerge themselves in the local literary community, networking with other writers, getting candid academic and career advice, receiving feedback on their creative work, showcasing that creative work, and attending special private events with acclaimed visiting authors in March and April 2022, when the five participating colleges (Anoka-Ramsey Community College, Century College, Minneapolis Community and Technical College, Normandale Community College, and North Hennepin Community College) will each host a nationally prominent BIPOC author for campus visits.

To apply, fill out this form: tinyurl.com/writelikeus
Applications are due at 11:59 p.m., Oct. 16, 2021. Mentors will select eight scholarship mentees per college by Oct. 25.

For more information, contact Brian.Baumgart@nhcc.edu

Write Like Us Details

Write Like Us is an equity-based creative writing program at five Twin Cities metro-area community colleges: Anoka-Ramsey Community College, Century College, Minneapolis Community and Technical College, Normandale Community College, and North Hennepin Community College. Write Like Us centers and celebrates the work of BIPOC writers and writing students, fostering literary mentorship and leadership as it builds a platform for shared stories, voices, and lived experiences.  

Write Like Us will host ten writers in residence during the 2021-2022 academic year, its inaugural year. Five of the residencies will feature nationally prominent BIPOC authors, one each at five participating campuses. The other five residencies will feature local BIPOC author-mentors who will work throughout the year with BIPOC mentees—students at each of our campuses. Write Like Us hopes to increase BIPOC recruitment, retention, and representation in our Associate of Fine Arts (AFA) and creative writing certificate programs—programs with high rates of persistence, graduation, and transfer.


  • Write Like Us Local Author-Mentors 

    Write Like Us author-mentors will visit creative writing classrooms at each of the five participating colleges during fall and spring semesters of 2021-2022 and will work individually with eight scholarship mentees from each of the five campuses (forty total) throughout the academic year. Each mentor will interview one of the nationally prominent authors in the public on-stage events.

    Merle Geode will appear for a public event, interviewing Tommy Orange at Normandale Community College, on Tuesday, April 5. 

    Merle Geode is a mixed race (Korean and white) disabled genderfluid poet/writer, shamanic practitioner, and multidisciplinary artist based in Minneapolis living with metastatic breast cancer. They have a B.S. degree in Zoology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where they were a UW-Madison Writing Fellow. They were a food and features writer for several years for Isthmus and Our Lives Magazine in Madison, but their storytelling is now taking a turn for more experimental and expansive forms. They are currently an MFA candidate in Poetry at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. Their poems and essays appear in Love, Always: Partners of Trans People on Intimacy, Challenge and Resilience; MNArtists; and poetry.onl. Currently, they are working on a picture book about anticipatory grief and death as an author/illustrator.

    They are a former journalist, fine dining cook, and dog groomer who has discovered, during the  pandemic, that they actually like to garden.


    Michael Kleber-Diggs will appear for a public event, interviewing Kiese Laymon at North Hennepin Community College, on Tuesday, April 28. 

    Michael Kleber-Diggs (KLEE-burr digs) is a poet, essayist, and literary critic. His debut poetry collection, Worldly Things, won the Max Ritvo Poetry Prize. His essay, On the Complex Flavors of Black Joy,” is included in the anthology Theres a Revolution Outside, My Love: Letters from a Crisis, edited by Tracy K. Smith and John Freeman. Among other places, Michaels writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Great River Review, Water~Stone Review, Poem-a-Day, Poetry Daily, Poetry Northwest, Potomac Review, Hunger Mountain, Memorious, and a few anthologies. Michael is a past Fellow with the Givens Foundation for African American Literature, a past-winner of the Loft Mentor Series in Poetry, and the former Poet Laureate of Anoka County libraries. Since 2016, Michael has been an instructor with the Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop. He also teaches Creative Writing in Augsburg Universitys low-res MFA program and at Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists. His work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net and has been supported by the Minnesota State Arts Board, the Jerome Foundation, and the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council. Michael is married to Karen Kleber-Diggs, a tropical horticulturist and orchid specialist. Karen and Michael have a daughter who is pursuing a BFA in Dance Performance at SUNY Purchase.


    Rosetta Peters will appear for a public event, interviewing Tracy K. Smith at Century Community College, on Tuesday, March 29. 

    Rosetta Peters is a poet, an author, a public speaker, and an activist. She is of Yankton, Crow Creek, and Oglala descent. A procrastinator to the point of detriment and lover of the natural world. Rosetta has had her poetry published in the Yellow Medicine Review and has recently been awarded the Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant 2021 to professionally record and release an album of her Spoken Word/Performance Poetry and the MRAC Next Step Grant 2021/2022 for creative support for the completion of her memoir titled, The Spider and The Rose.


    Sagirah Shahid will appear for a public event, interviewing Hanif Abdurraqib at Minneapolis College, on Tuesday, April 12. 

    Sagirah Shahid is a Black American Muslim poet, arts educator, and performance artist from Minneapolis, Minnesota. She is the recipient of awards and fellowships from the Loft Literary Center, the Twin Cities Media Alliance, the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, and the Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art. Sagirah is a teaching-writer with Unrestricted Interest, a writing program and consultancy dedicated to supporting neurodiverse learners through creative writing. Her debut collection of poetry Surveillance of Joy is forthcoming from Half Mystic Press. Sagirah's children's activity book Get Involved In A Book Club is available for pre-order with Capstone Press. 


    Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay will appear for a public event, interviewing Brit Bennett at Anoka-Ramsey Community College, on Thursday, April 21. 

    Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay is a Lao writer. CNNs United Shades of America” host W. Kamau Bell called her work revolutionary.” Governor Mark Dayton recognized her with a Lao Artists Heritage Month” Proclamation. Shes a recipient of a Sally Award for Initiative from the Ordway Center for Performing Arts which recognizes bold new steps and strategic leadership undertaken by an individual . . . in creating projects or artistic programs never before seen in Minnesota that will have a significant impact on strengthening Minnesotas artistic/cultural community.” She's the author of the children's book When Everything Was Everything and is best known for her award-winning play Kung Fu Zombies Vs Cannibals. Her plays have been presented by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center (NY), Theater Mu (MN), Lower Depth Theater (LA), Asian Improv Arts (IL), and elsewhere. Other awards include grants/fellowships from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Jerome Foundation, Bush Foundation, Andy Warhol Foundation, MAP Fund, Playwrights' Center, Forecast Public Art, MRAC, MSAB, and others. Saymoukda is currently an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Playwright in Residence at Theater Mu, a McKnight Foundation Fellow in Community-Engaged Practice Art, and a Jerome Hill Artist Fellow in playwriting. 

  • Write Like Us Scholarship Mentees

    Write Like Us mentees, working with the mentors who’ve selected them, immerse themselves in the local literary community, networking with other writers, getting candid academic and career advice, receiving feedback on their creative work, showcasing that creative work, and attending special non-public events with the visiting national authors.

  • Minnesota State Equity 2030

    The inaugural year of Write Like Us is funded by a $150,000 Minnesota State Multi-Campus Collaboration grant in support of Minnesota State’s Equity 2030 goals. Minnesota State is a consortium of thirty state colleges and seven universities in Minnesota. Equity 2030 aims to close the educational equity gaps across race and ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and geographic location by the end of the decade at every Minnesota State college and university.


All Write Like Us activities follow Minnesota State guidance and mandates regarding COVID-19 protocol.