Whiting Awards

Since 1985, the Foundation has supported creative writing through the Whiting Awards, which are given annually to ten emerging writers in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama.

News & Reviews

Ishion Hutchinson and Yusef Komunyakaa in conversation

On Poets.org, Hutchinson and Komunyakaa discuss the influence of Robert Lowell and "the conflict of the American being." 

PEN American interviews Ishion Hutchinson

Hutchinson reveals why his grandmother’s house is his favorite place to write, and why he is “obsessed” with The Iliad.  

Passing of Brigit Pegeen Kelly

The Whiting Foundation regrets the passing of extraordinary poet Brigit Pegeen Kelly, Whiting 1996, of whom poet Stephen Dobyns wrote, "Not only are her poems brilliantly made, but they also give great pleasure. Rarely are those two qualities seen together in one poet.”

“Hermeneutics” by Kerri Webster

In Poetry magazine, Webster writes an ode to a woman who “wear a prayer around her neck/ in another language, no clue/ what it says” and “bites her lip till it bleeds.”

Publishers Weekly reviews Wannabe Hoochie Mama Gallery of Realities’ Red Dress Code by Thylias Moss

Publishers Weekly dubs Moss’s collection of new and selected poems “a kaleidoscopic reflection of race and racial identity as it intersects with the rites of womanhood.”

Kirkus Reviews interviews C.E. Morgan

Morgan discusses the emotional difficulty of writing The Sport of Kings and her favorite poets. 

“Pluto” by Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi

In a new story for the Los Angeles Review of Books, Van der Vliet Oloomi’s narrator wanders health food stores as the ponders the state of her existence, declaring that “I believe I emit a vibration that resembles the sound of that No.”

“The Flâneur Tends a Well-Liked Summer Cocktail” by Major Jackson

In the Virginia Quarterly Review, Jackson’s narrator surveys the “street’s gloomy mouth” while “his body seems to summon/ some deep immensity from all that surrounds.”

“Poet Roger Reeves finds abundance of inspiration in Pullman”

Reeves talks to The Chicago Tribune about his National Parks Service-commissioned poem for Chicago’s Pullman neighborhood, declaring, “no matter what I write, it was just great to be out in the world."

“After Orlando”

On The Poetry Society, poet Andrew McMillan reflects on the work of Jericho Brown and Ocean Vuong as a space to “rebuild the body” following the shooting in Orlando.

The Guardian interviews Suzan-Lori Parks

Parks tells the story of her father, a Vietnam War veteran, and talks about the childhood memories that influenced her latest work, Father Comes Home from the Wars.

Proscenium Plays interviews Sarah Ruhl

Ruhl talks to the theatre journal about her journey from poetry to playwriting, and shares her advice to young playwrights: “Read more, walk more, love more.”

"A Decade in the Literary Wilderness: A Conversation”

On The Millions, Alexander Chee talks with fellow writers Emily Barton and Whitney Terrell about the process of writing a novel in ten years, and shares his highs and lows of the experience, from elaborate breakfasts to missed family vacations.

The Fanzine reviews Hardly War by Don Mee Choi

The Fanzine meditates on Choi’s use of photographs throughout her collection, and remarks in praise that “nothing in Hardly War is what it appears to be on the surface.”

“What Are White Writers For?” by Jess Row

In the New Republic, Row considers the inevitable politics of fiction-writing and asks, "What are novels for, and what are novelists for?"

"Meditations at the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park" by Jericho Brown

The poet reflects: “Poetry is where/ I understand/ I am nothing/ If I can’ t sit/ For awhile/ In the audience.”

The BBC interviews Suzan-Lori Parks

Parks talks about producing her play on slavery in America, Father Comes Home from the Wars, overseas, and why she is “always interested in people first” before language. 

“Too Much and Too Little: A History of David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King

The Los Angeles Review of Books discusses how David Foster Wallace completed The Pale King by writing himself into it.

Publishers Weekly reviews Banana Palace by Dana Levin

Publishers Weekly praises Levin’s insight into the “absurdity” of physical bodies, and writes that “the world may seem broken, but these poems don’t convey doom—Levin’s clear, grounded language leaves the reader hopeful in the end.”

Vanity Fair interviews Teddy Wayne

Wayne explores the concept of privilege and shares insight into creating empathy for an unlikeable character. 

The Harvard Gazette interviews Colson Whitehead

Whitehead talks about racism in America and reveals how he dealt with rejection during his early days of writing. 

“Gabble Like A Thing Most Brutish” by Safiya Sinclair

On Poetry Foundation, Sinclair reflects on using The Tempest as inspiration in her latest collection to “interrogate disruptive histories and the power of the language I live with.” 

The New York Review of Books on From the New World by Jorie Graham

The New York Review of Books raves, “like incantations, Graham’s best poems cast spells,” praising Graham’s ability to capture “the drama of that mind in motion.”

Esquire interviews Teddy Wayne

Wayne discusses the research he did to create a realistic college setting for his latest novel Loner, and why he doesn’t consider the work a thriller.

Publications & Productions

The Maids by José Rivera

Two sisters and maids dream of liberating Vieques from the mistress of the largest sugar plantation on the island. In Rivera's latest, premiering at INTAR Theatre, "poison is consumed, genders collide, and a psychosexual drama is unleashed."

Loner by Teddy Wayne

Loner is the story of David Federman, a withdrawn Harvard freshman who meets a beautiful, sophisticated Manhattanite named Veronica. David quickly becomes infatuated, to devastating circumstances. Kirkus Reviews calls Loner "stunning" and "as absorbing as it is devastating."

What is Remembered by Suketu Mehta

Mahesh's life in America is so perfect that memories of his past in India seem to have disappeared completely, but a visit to Jackson Heights reminds him of what he thought he had forgotten. Livemint calls Mehta's latest "surreal, moving and terribly funny."

A Cloud of Unusual Size and Shape by Matt Donovan

Poet Tom Sleigh calls Donovan's collection of essays about ruin and redemption "unparalleled for their speculative reach and grasp of physical detail."

Cannibal by Safiya Sinclair

Poet Ada Limón declares that Cannibal is "a new muscular music that is as brutal as it is beautiful," calling Sinclair "a poet who is dangerously talented and desperately needed."

When Watched by Leopoldine Core

The Los Angeles Review of Books declares that, when reading Core's collection of stories based in New York City, "one gets an otherworldly sensation."

Dead People by Morgan Meis and Stefany Anne Goldberg

The Rumpus calls Meis's latest, a collection of unorthodox obituaries for figures such as Osama bin Laden and David Foster Wallace, "an impassioning read."  

Guy Novel by Michael Ryan

Publishers Weekly dubs Ryan's first novel, a detective story set in California's entertainment industry, "a really fun thrill ride."

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Whitehead's novel explores the journey of one young slave as she travels on a harrowing, state-by-state flight out of a cotton plantation in Georgia in the Antebellum South. The Boston Globe deems The Underground Railroad "a fully realized masterpiece."


She She She by Virginia Grise

In Grise's latest work, two struggling strangers from different eras serendipitously meet to give each other the strength to survive. She She She uses poetry and visual art to amplify the voices of queer women across time and place. 

Notes on Glaze by Wayne Koestenbaum

In the spring of 2010, Cabinet magazine invited Koestenbaum to begin writing a column in which he would write one or more extended captions for a single photograph with which the editors of the magazine had provided him. Notes on Glaze collects all the “Legend” columns, as well as their accompanying photographs.

American Rhapsody by Claudia Roth Pierpont 

The Christian Science Monitor praises Pierpont's "dazzling prose" in this collection of portraits of American artists and innovators, and The Washington Post dubs her blend of biography and criticism "ingenious."