By Melony Roy

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — After tenures at the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Miami, one of the top workshop for writers of color is heading to the University of Philadelphia.

Voices of Our Nation Arts Foundation has found a new home at the University of Penn. 158 writers from seven countries and 12 states have started a two week workshop to help cultivate emerging writers and give them the opportunity to work with distinguished faculty.

“Philadelphia is one of the most culturally diverse cities in the country, very welcoming, very historic,” said Diem Jones, the executive director of VONA. “It historically supported the literary scene, it’s very active.”

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The annual workshop offers courses in fiction, poetry, travel writing, playwriting, essay writing and more.

“It is a community of people of color, writers of color,” Jones explained. “We look to put together a cohort of cohesive writers that may be at different points of their careers that are able to communicate and propel each other on their individual journey”

More than 2,300 writers from around the world have participated in the VONA workshop since it was founded in 1999. Hundreds of alumni have gone on to publish books, receive literary prizes, and teach in academic programs.

All workshops are underway now, but closed to the public. There will be two free faculty readings on June 22 and June 29 in Houston Hall on Penn’s campus.

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