The BleakHouse Fellowship is the flagship award of BleakHouse Publishing. It is given to the American University student whose scholarship best exemplifies the commitment of the press to “shine a humane light on the nether world of penal institutions, as well as other repressive settings, practices, and beliefs.” Casey Chiappetta is a senior honors student at American University majoring in sociology. This last year, she studied social policy at the London School of Economics through the General Course program. While in London, she worked as a mentor for at-risk high school students in East London through a government scheme called Widening Participation. In the summer of 2014, she lived in Israel-Palestine during the escalation and up to the most recent offensive on Gaza, working as an advocate for dialogue and human rights. She spent three weeks there again this summer, attending seminars and visiting friends. Her experience both working in and with conflict resolution strengthened her resolve to work for social justice, currently in the context of domestic criminal justice. She is passionate about the study of intergroup dynamics, particularly with regard to power relations. She is editor-in-chief of American University’s student-run political magazine, AWOL, where she has worked for the past three years. For the press, she serves as Chief Operating Officer, coordinates web posts, and is a literary and graphics editor for BleakHouse Review.
Our BleakHouse Fellow for academic year 2015-16 is Tatiana Laing, an honors student in the School of Public Affairs at American University. Since arriving in Washington DC in the fall of 2012, she has become involved with a number of organizations that work to reform the criminal justice system. Laing was a key organizer of “The Darkening,” a demonstration undertaken on the AU campus in the spring of 2015 to protest police violence, a problem that disproportionately affects minorities, a group that includes Laing. “Being of Jamaican decent, I’ve had to face many of the institutionalized problems that all ethnic minorities face. But facing those problems has empowered me to work to change the institutions by which this nation is governed.” Laing hopes to practice law and continue to be an advocate for racial justice and criminal justice reform in the United States.
ALEXA MARIE KELLY
Our BleakHouse Fellow for academic year 2014-2015 is Alexa Marie Kelly. Kelly studied public relations with minors in literature and marketing at American University. She works with Professor Johnson as BleakHouse Publishing’s Chief Editorial Officer. In this role, she encourages and evaluates writing submitted to the press and has reached out beyond the AU campus to increase submissions from prisoners and other writers. Kelly is co-editor in chief of Tacenda Literary Magazine, BleakHouse’s flagship print journal of creative prose and poetry. As BleakHouse Fellow, Kelly will create her own BleakHouse poetry collection, to be published in 2015. She will also co-lead a volunteer trip to San Francisco to explore our broken justice system. In the future, she hopes to work as a publicist and continue supporting prison reform.
Rose is an honors student at American University studying Law & Society and International Relations. Rose has worked for several legal non-profits, including the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project and the Capital Litigation Communications Project, and has presented and published scholarly works in professional venues.
Claire Callahan is an honors student at American University studying Law and Society. A prolific writer with a growing roster of publications that includes works of fiction and non-fiction, she is the author of the award-winning short story “Why the Corrida,” an allegory on the death penalty described by one reviewer as a work of “subtle grace and artistry.”
Shirin Karimi bridged two seemingly disparate branches of knowledge in her undergraduate years at American University, pursuing the study of medicine while fulfilling her creative side with a major in Literature. Her award-winning book, Enclosures, explores suffering and loss among the ill and imprisoned, and has been described as a work that “brings us close to the heart of what it means to be human.”
Liz Calka is an undergraduate student at American University majoring in Visual Media and minoring in Graphic Design. Calka is an award-winning photographer and designer who serves as the Art Director for BleakHouse Publishing. Her portfolio includes book and magazine covers, websites, and several photographic documentary series.
Sonia Tabriz is an honors student at American University with majors in Law & Society and Psychology. Tabriz is an award-winning and widely published author, editor, and artist. Her publications include an edited book of criminal justice fiction, several stories and poems, magazine and book cover art, and articles in law review and social science journals.
Molly Kenney is an honors student at American University and a Truman Scholar. Ms. Kenney is a dedicated student of the death penalty who approaches this controversial topic from a multi-disciplinary perspective. She is a mentor to selected honors students who are examining the death penalty as part of their course of study.