Winner of Bellingham Review‘s 49th Parallel Poetry Award, Chattahoochee Review‘s Lamar York Nonfiction Prize and Glimmer Train‘s Family Matters Fiction Prize, Ming Holden is a writer, translator, activist, editor, teacher, humanitarian aid and development worker, and theater artist. She was invited by the United States Embassy to Suriname on a diplomatic speaking engagement under the U.S. Speakers Program to speak about creative writing and theater as tools for empowerment for Women’s History Month in 2014. (Here is the U.S. government press release.) In 2011, she founded the Survival Girls, a self-sustaining theater group for young Congolese women in the slums of Nairobi. Her book about the experience, the nonfiction novella The Survival Girls, came out in 2013 through Wolfram Productions. Ming also won the USAID worldwide essay contest for inclusion in the USAID Frontiers in Development publication alongside work by Bill Gates, Indra Noori, Paul Collier, and others. Her essay about the Survival Girls got some love from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton herself in the book’s introduction! (Ming’s writing about the Girls was also nominated for the AWP Intro Award for Nonfiction.)
Ming served the Mongolian Writers Union as its first-ever International Relations Adviser during her year as a Henry Luce Scholar in Mongolia and worked towards the formation of a Mongolia PEN Center. She has since returned to Mongolia to work for The Asia Foundation on a literary translation and advocated for an exiled Chinese writer in Turkey at the Writers and Literary Translators International Congress 2010, where she was the youngest presenter and one of the only Americans. Ming is also the recipient of the Herman Wells Graduate Fellowship, Indiana University’s most competitive graduate award, designated for “leadership abilities, character, social consciousness, and generosity of spirit,” and the Woon-Joon Yoon Memorial Fellowship, for “students who have exemplified tolerance and understanding across racial and religious lines through service, personal commitment, academic achievement and future potential.” (Here’s the press release for the Wells.)
Ming’s nonfiction has also placed as a finalist or runner-up for the annual nonfiction prizes at Arts & Letters, Passages North, Ruminate, and Crab Orchard Review. While an undergraduate at Brown University (’07), Ming co-founded and served as Editor-in-Chief of the Brown Literary Review. Her poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, journalism, interviews, photography, and literary translations have also appeared in The Daily Beast, Alchemy, Box Of Jars, Cerise Press, The Best American Poetry Blog, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Jai-Alai, The Huffington Post, Molotov Cocktail, Peaches and Bats, The Poker, Prospect, The Rumpus, the Santa Ynez Valley Journal, the Santa Barbara Independent, Slice Magazine’s blog, and others. In 2010, he taught a cross-genre workshop at the Richard Hugo House.
Ming has worked in community development in Russia (at the Silver Taiga Sustainable Forestry Foundation); Syria (with Every Syrian); Turkey (independently); Ecuador (at the CEMOPLAF family planning clinic); Bolivia (at the Rio Beni Health Project); Mongolia (at The Asia Foundation and the Mongolian Writers Union); Kenya (independently; at the UNHCR; and with the Golden Globe Foundation); Suriname (through the American Embassy); and also in California (at People Helping People and The Odyssey Project) and in New York (at Archipelago Books).
As a theater actor, Ming has played Janey in Calamity Jane (Plaza Playhouse, 2014); Reika in Dijo Productions’ holocaust musical drama Ghetto (Centre Stage, 2014); several characters, including the time-traveling stripper Helen La Tour, in Old Time Radio Show (Plaza Playhouse, 2015); the ghost of Grace Kelly in Reconnected (Plaza Playhouse, 2015); the heroine Wendy March in Dr. Devereaux (Plaza Playhouse, 2015); Mrs. Crachitt in A Christmas Carol (Plaza Playhouse, 2015); and, most recently, Cecily Pigeon in the Plaza Playhouse revival of The Odd Couple. As a film actor, Ming starred in director Anna South’s comedic short Flammestra in 2015.
A recipient of the University of California’s Special Regents Fellowship, Ming is currently earning a PhD in Theater and Dance at UCSB, where she was a part of the pilot Graduate Affiliate Fellow program at the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center. She was the teaching assistant and research assistant for the Odyssey Project, which brings incarcerated young men to the UCSB campus for a theater workshop.