Jami Nakamura Lin achieved a prestigious mental health fellowship through the Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow. The fellowship is titled, “Real People, Real Struggles, Real Stories: Writing About Mental Illness” and is awarded to a writer for a non-fiction work focused on how they or someone they know manages their mental illness. 

Lin will receive a fully funded residency for two weeks at the Writers’ Colony where she will work on a collection of essays titled “The Night Parade.” The essays reference Japanese mythology connecting Lin’s experience living with bipolar disorder and her grief over the illness and death of her father to yokai, supernatural creatures from Japanese folklore.

“I am drawn to these yokai because I can identify with these ‘monsters’ born out of other people’s fear,” Lin said. “These essays are a way to illuminate the ghosts that will always be around me—to honor and tame them. We are afraid to speak of mental illness, we are afraid to speak of grief, but only when I see a monster can I understand the contours of its face.”

Lin plans to attend her residency in June 2021 and said she is grateful to receive the fellowship. 

“I’m so honored to receive this fellowship. Motherhood and mental illness can make it difficult to carve out time for my own writing, especially during a pandemic,” Lin said. “This fellowship will give me much-needed time to restore my energy and focus on my essays.”

In addition to her fellowship with the Writers’ Colony, Lin is the recipient of a Creative Artists’ Fellowship through the National Endowment for the Arts which allowed her to spend four months in Japan researching and writing about folklore in rural areas.

Depending on the guidelines surrounding COVID-19, the public may have a chance to meet Lin and hear her read during her residence at Dairy Hollow. Details will be announced later. 

The mental health scholarship was generously funded by Sharon Spurlin. More information on funding a fellowship is available here.