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

From “Whereas Statements” by Layli Long Soldier

The New York Times features an excerpt from Long Soldier’s poem in response to President Obama’s congressional resolution of apology to Native Americans. Here, she reminders her daughter, “In our home in our family we are ourselves, real feelings. Be true.”

TIME magazine names The Underground Railroad one of the 10 best novels of 2016

TIME chose Colson Whitehead’s novel, about a runaway slave on a literal Underground Railroad, as one of their best books of 2016.

“Breaking Bubbles” by Tyehimba Jess

Jess explains why the act of writing a poem “calls upon the writer to listen intimately" and how art can be used to create shared understanding. 

“A Poem for Better Times: Millie McKoy & Christine McCoy Recall Meeting Blind Tom, 1877” by Tyehimba Jess

Jess’s poem, from his collection Olio, is written in the voice of conjoined twins the McKoy Sisters (1851-1912), who explain of traveling circus life, “our bodies betrayals have made us a way.” 

“Oh! You Tony” by Elena Passarello

In the Paris Review, new correspondent Elena Passarello writes the first in a series about famous animals in history: an ode to silent-film star Tony the Wonder Horse and his early retirement. 

Jericho Brown interviewed on Divedapper

On the poetry blog, Brown discusses the importance of writers creating community, and why he believes “every poem has a face.”

The London Review of Books reviews The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Writer Thomas Chatterton Williams reflects on the effective use of tone in Whitehead’s text, and concludes that, “Writers like Whitehead show us another possibility” for disrupting a cycle of racism. 

“Virtuoso of the Tiny” by Luc Sante

In The New York Review of Books, Luc Sante writes an ode to spot illustrations, "the unsung toilers of the magazine page," and the work of New Yorker cartoonist Richard McGuire.

Two new poems by Hannah Dela Cruz Abrams

In the Four Way Review, Abrams explores themes of failed romance and loneliness, writing, “my nights are a thousand faces/ turning away.”

Terrance Hayes on the importance of black poetry

At the 2016 National Book Award celebration, Hayes delivered a stirring speech on the vital role Cave Canem has played in the literary world, reflecting, “It’s such a futuristic idea. The descendants of slaves becoming poets.”

Colson Whitehead wins the 2016 National Book Award for Fiction

Whitehead received the honor for his novel The Underground Railroad. In his acceptance speech, Whitehead focused on the power of art and advised, "Be kind to everybody." 

Benjamin Percy on which books he’s learned from and what inspired his latest collection of essays

In the Chicago Review of Books, Percy discusses Thrill Me, his new book on writing, and shares his advice for young writers: “Read your brains out and write your brains out.”

The Washington Independent Review of Books on Thrill Me by Benjamin Percy

Thrill Me “turns the plodding process of writing into a heart-pounding read,” writes the journal of Percy’s latest, a guide for building suspense in written work.

Matt Donovan and Dana Levin in conversation

In the Boston Review, the two Whiting winners discuss art and empathy, and “bringing the lofty down to earth.”

The Interval interviews Suzan-Lori Parks

Parks talks about the influence of jazz on her work and how dancing helps her write. 

Gordon Grice on why his work “isn’t for the squeamish” 

Grice talks to the University of St. Thomas about how we overestimate animals' danger and shares his thoughts on zoos. 

Katha Pollitt wins the Women’s Way 2016 Book Prize

Pollitt received the honor for her “urgent” book Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights. Established in 2007, the prize honors feminist Ernest Drinker Ballard, and has previously been given to writers like Rebecca Traister and Janet Mock.

Counternarratives by John Keene is longlisted for the 2016 Republic of Consciousness Prize

The judging committee said of Kenne’s collection, “That this set of stories and novellas has not made every shortlist it’s eligible for is a travesty.”

C.E. Morgan receives the 2016 Kirkus Prize for Fiction

Morgan won the award for her novel The Sport of Kings. The Kirkus Prize judges wrote that Morgan’s novel is "vaultingly ambitious, thrillingly well-written, charged with moral fervor and rueful compassion. How will this dazzling writer astonish us next time?"

Four poems by Shane McCrae

In Omniverse, four new poems by McCrae are told from the perspective of a narrator who declares, “I cannot talk about the place I came from/ I do want it to exist.”

“In the Fine Print of Experience” by Deborah Eisenberg

In the introduction to a new collection of twentieth-century British novelist Henry Green’s work, Eisenberg reflects on the writer “not only from literary conventions but also from conventions of thought.”

South China Morning Post magazine interviews Adam Johnson

The writer tells stories about his father, who was a guard at the local zoo when Johnson was growing up, and reveals why he had to quit journalism. 

“Border Patrol Agent” by Eduardo C. Corral

A poem by Corral in the New Republic depicts a day in the life of a U.S. border patrol agent, a man who meditates on his wife, his father, and the moment in which “in a clearing full of bottles, sneakers,/ TP rolls,/ I found a body.”

WNYC interviews Colson Whitehead

Whitehead discusses his zombie novel, Zone One, Stephen King’s influence on his work, and watching A Clockwork Orange at age ten.

Publications & Productions

Clover by Erik Ehn

Ehn's latest play follows the tragedy of Emmett Till and his mother that helped spur the Civil Rights Movement as well as three other stories, illustrating America’s history of violence towards those most vulnerable. 

Berlin Notebook: Where are the Refugees? by Joshua Weiner

In his Berlin Notebook, Weiner chronicles a fall and spring spent in Berlin from 2015-16, when the peak influx of refugees into the country took place. Weiner documents the mixed German response to the refugee crisis: some feel an obligation to assist rooted in the past, and others, a deep skepticism.

Aneurysm of the Firmament by Thylias Moss

Moss's new chapbook of poetry, available on Kindle, is a collaboration with fellow poet Thomas Higginson, and a work "in which differentiating words of one from word of the other is impossible as true collaboration should be."

Banana Palace by Dana Levin

Levin's latest collection is an ode to spiritual meaning and approaching apocalypse . Of Banana Palace, Plougshares writes, "these poems question the moral, aesthetic, and metaphysical needs that poetry exists to fill."

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."