The Play It Forward Fellowships aim to nurture and amplify the talents of writers whose voices and stories have traditionally been underrepresented in Irish literature and publishing. A joint initiative between Skein Press and The Stinging Fly, spearheaded by poet and editor Nidhi Zak/Aria Eipe, the programme seeks to advance new perspectives in contemporary cultural discourse, and broaden conversations around diversity, inclusion, access and opportunity across the literary landscape.

This pioneering 18-month programme is designed to create pathways for writers to develop, showcase and publish their work. Fellows will receive structured support including mentoring, editorial feedback, career consulting, participation in workshops, training, festivals and literary events, as well as opportunities to meet and build relationships with editors, agents, publishers and writers in order to significantly progress their writing practice.

The inaugural Play It Forward Fellowships were awarded to Gonchigkhand Byambaa, Sara Chudzik, Neo Florence Gilson, Majed Mujed and Sarah Fitzgerald. The 2021/22 fellows were selected from a strong field of applicants by a panel of writers and editors including Thomas Morris, Melatu Uche Okorie, and Nidhi Zak/Aria Eipe. The second cohort welcomed Helen Hutchinson and Chrissy Donoghue Ward as 2022/23 fellows of the programme.

In 2022, we produced a series of five short documentaries highlighting the fellows’ achievements, available here. With thanks to the Arts Council of Ireland, the West Cork Literary Festival, the Irish Writers Centre, Luke Brabazon and Ellen Forkin.

A comprehensive evaluation of the pilot Play It Forward Fellowships programme was conducted in 2023. The final report and findings is available here, as well as a detailed Phase I report encompassing the outreach and selection process, accessible here.

The Fellowships are funded through the generous support of the Arts Council of Ireland/An Chomhairle Ealaíon, Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth/An Roinn Leanaí, Comhionannais, Míchumais, Lánpháirtiochta agus Öige and the Independent Living Movement Ireland.