The Institute for Child Success Focus Fellowship

Anis Mojgani

Anis Mojgani is 2016’s recipient of The Institute for Child Success Focus Fellowship.  This fellowship is awarded to an artist of any discipline making work for young children.

January 29- Feb 27



Anis Mojgani is a two time National Poetry Slam Champion, winner of the International World Cup Poetry Slam, and multiple-time TEDx Speaker. He has been awarded residencies from the Vermont Studio Center, AIR Serenbe, and the Oregon Literary Arts Writers-In-The-Schools program. Anis has performed at numerous universities, festivals, and venues around the globe and has performed for audiences as varied as the House of Blues and the United Nations. His work has appeared on HBO, NPR, and in the pages of such journals as RattleForklift OhioPaper Darts, and Thrush

Pulling inspiration from his Black and Iranian heritage, his childhood memories, his worldview, love, and existence, Anis takes seemingly commonplace subject matter and sculpts inspiration from them. Weaving dream-like tales that dip into imaginative imagery, Anis’s poems make the ordinary almost surreal and, through jolts of wide-eyed writing and striking honesty, make that which is fantastical remarkably relatable. Both innocent and heartbreaking, introspective and curious, the humanity his work carries causes listeners to remember and experience a childhood that is not their own but feels like it was.

A founding member of the no longer touring Poetry Revival, Anis is also the author of three poetry collections, all published by Write Bloody PublishingSongs From Under the RiverThe Feather RoomOver the Anvil We Stretch. A visual artist as well, his latest book, The Pocketknife Bible, is a fully illustrated poetry-novella. Originally from New Orleans, Anis lives in Oregon. He is represented by Blue Flower Arts.

During his residency at Serenbe, Anis will be working on a new book of poetry and illustration for young children.


Launched in 2010, the Institute for Child Success (ICS) is a private, nonpartisan research and policy organization. ICS works to create a culture that facilitates and fosters the success of all children. ICS supports policymakers, service providers, government agencies, funders, and business leaders focused on early childhood development, healthcare, and education - all to coordinate, enhance, and improve those efforts for the maximum effect in the lives of young children (prenatal to age five). Rather than being a direct service provider, the Institute's approach focuses on helping those who help young children succeed by working with stakeholders to seek holistic solutions to complex early childhood challenges.

Message from Joe Waters, Vice President of ICS:

“The Institute for Child Success, in partnership with AIR Serenbe, is excited to announce a new initiative focused on leveraging the arts to foster the success of all young children and their families. 

In recent weeks we have been asked why a research and policy organization- a “think tank”- is interested in supporting a program for artists and how we anticipate this program to inform and support our existing work. We believe in the value of this initiative for three main reasons: 

  • We believe that the arts can help us unwind the entrenched cultural narratives that undermine child success and wellbeing. The arts can also shape alternative cultural narratives and norms that support child success.
  • Consistent with our mission pillar of fostering the next generation of leaders for America’s young children, we must include leaders in the arts and provide them with development opportunities just as we would any other rising leaders who can catalyze change for kids.
  • We believe that the stories children are told are of critical importance in shaping their own narratives, conceptions of self and of the world, and their location within our broader cultural narratives of race, gender, and class. We want more good stories out there for children to hear and be told. This is our own modest contribution to that effort.

The Institute for Child Success Focus Fellowship at AIR Serenbe is an important new initiative for advancing our vision of the success of all young children. AIR Serenbe is pleased to partner with ICS to provide artists making work for young children time and space to create, and to think with ICS staff and friends about the role that the arts can play in supporting the success of young children and their families. 

We are excited that our first artist, Anis Mojgani, a poet, illustrator, and spoken word performer, will take up residence at Serenbe on January 29th. During his residency, Anis will be working on a new book of poetry and illustration for young children.”


AIR Serenbe supports artists of every discipline through our Focus Fellowship awards, nominated annually by our National Advisory Council—esteemed peers and experts in the field.  Focus Fellowships provide the opportunity for individuals, corporations, and other organizations to directly support artists and their influence on building healthy, creative communities. Funders of these awards have the chance to name the fellowship and to work closely with AIR Serenbe to determine what kind of artists (discipline, geography, demographic, subject) the fellowship will serve.  

To learn more about establishing a Focus Fellowship, contact AIR Serenbe Director Brandon Hinman at