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

Waxwing magazine reviews Cannibal by Safiya Sinclair

Waxwing praises that agency with which Sinclair depicts in black women in her poems, writing that the collection is "an act of resistance and survival."

BOMB magazine reviews The Correspondence by J.D. Daniels

BOMB praises the “sharp” writing in meditations on travel and identity, and writes, “Daniels moves so nimbly between topics and episodes that only athletic metaphors come to mind.”

Cannibal by Safiya Sinclair is longlisted for the 2017 Dylan Thomas Prize

The prize is awarded for the best published literary work in the England language, written by an author aged 39 or under.

Jericho Brown is the poet-in-residence for the American Men’s Studies Association

Brown will serve as poet-in-reseidence for the organization’s 25th annual meeting. Participants will work with Brown during conference sessions and read their work at a performance with him. 

"Notes on Banana Palace or Fourteen Ways of Looking at Dana Levin"

On the Kenyon Review blog, poet Dean Rader writes an ode, in list form, to Levin's latest collection. "Reading a Dana Levin poem," Rader writes, "is a bit like spelunking into a cave of golden light."

NPR interviews Tarell Alvin McCraney

McCraney talks about how the film Moonlight, based on McCraney's play about his childhood in Miami, has influenced his own memories of the past.

Meridian reviews My Private Property by Mary Ruefle

The UVA journal writes that Ruefle’s latest collection contains "wily logic" and "poetic intelligence."

Dael Orlandersmith on Until the Flood

In American Theatre magazine, Orlandersmith discusses the one-woman listening tour she undertook for her play Until the Flood, a response to Ferguson and the issues of race it raised. “My job as a writer, in a nutshell,” Orlandersmith explains, “is to look at different perspectives without judgment.”

Drizzle Review on Hyperboreal by Joan Kane

Drizzle praises the book of poetry about Kane’s ties to her ancestral land, writing that Hyperboreal is “a collection of survival, of singing.”

“Halo” by Rowan Ricardo Phillips is selected for Best American Poetry 2017

Phillips’s poem begins “We wander round ring after ring of life" and explores the meaning of existence. Best American Poetry 2017 is edited by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Natasha Tretheway. 

“Semi-Splendid” by Tracy K. Smith

“My/ Heart hammers at the ceiling, telling my tongue/ To turn it down. Too late,” writes Smith in a new poem about the challenges of love.

Poems to Read for Black History Month

Poets.org includes work by Terrance Hayes on their list of poems for Black History Month. Whiting winners Rowan Ricardo Phillips, Safiya Sinclair and Terrance Hayes contributed picks for the list and shared their thoughts on the impact, both personal and public, of black poetry. “To be a black woman alive in America and writing poetry is miraculous,” Sinclair reflects.

House of SpeakEasy interviews Mitchell S. Jackson

Jackson talks to House of SpeakEasy about the first time he read a book for pleasure and when writing makes him dance around his apartment. 

Diode interviews Dana Levin

Levin discusses why she has been “mourning” her changing relationship to social media, and says of her writing process, “My way has always been to see in the personal life, the life of the unconscious, the seeds of our collective experience.” 

Full Stop magazine reviews When Watched by Leopoldine Core

The magazine praises Core’s ability to depict ordinary moments in life, writing that, despite their seemingly everyday subjects, Core’s stories provide “thrill.”

The Miami Herald reviews GableStage production of Between Riverside and Crazy

The Herald praises the Florida theater performance of Stephen Adly Guirgus’s work, writing that “Guirgis is a playwright with a distinctive voice and the ability to create vivid characters who veer from comedy to life-altering conflict with equal aplomb.”

Katha Pollitt on the Women’s March on Washington

In The Nation, Pollitt writes about her experience participating in the event, and describes the horrible "shock of recognition" that inspired millions of women to march.

NPR interviews Catherine Lacey

Lacey and collaborator Forsythe Harmon discuss the romantic connections between artists they discovered while creating The Art of the Affair, and why “affections are dangerous.”

Reflections on character in the work of Sarah Shun-lien Bynum

“Fruitful fictional worlds contain real risks and consequences," reflects Ploughshares writer Clare Beams in a meditation on Bynum’s skillfully-developed difficult characters. 

Fiction Writers Review interviews Alan Heathcock

Movies and the Midwest are major inspirations, Heathcock says, and explains why he believes that “learning can and should be thrilling.”

The New York Times interviews Allison Glock

Glock and her partner, writer T Cooper, discuss their young adult series, Changers, about a group of teens that swap identities at the start of each school year. “As an LGBT family, we are writing content for the kids we used to be,” Glock explains. 

Ishion Hutchinson and Tyehimba Jess named National Book Critics Circle Award finalists

Both Hutchinson and Jess are nominated in the category of Poetry. Hutchinson is a finalist for his book House of Lords and Commons and Jess is nominated for the collection Olio

 

The Millions reviews Enigma Variations by André Aciman

The Millions reflects on the forces of infatuation explored throughout the novel, and writes that “the project is one of recognition and revelation within the reader.”

“The King’s New Year’s Fitness Journal” by Teddy Wayne

In The New Yorker, Wayne’s parody of workout tips fit for a king includes a suggestion to “use portrait as inspiration!”.

Publications & Productions

Vang by Mary Swander

Vang is based on Swander's research into recent Iowa immigrant farmers. Through interviews and photographs, Swander has created a play about the struggles, survival skills, and connection to the land of Hmong, Mexican, Sudanese and Dutch immigrants.

Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life by Yiyun Li

Yiyun Li's memoir, written over two years while the author battled suicidal depression, is the account of Li's experiences reading her most significant literary influences. "Reading Yiyun Li feels like being inside a mind—a quietly forceful, unrelenting mind," writes Eula Biss.

Buck Studies by Douglas Kearney

Buck Studies explores an intersection of Greek and black stories through forms like gangsta rap and the murder ballad. "Kearney is at the other end of the century, using a multicultural voice inflected with the concerns of what it means to be a young black man at this time and at this place," writes The Los Angeles Times.

Milk Black Carbon by Joan Kane

Kane's latest collection explores motherhood, marriage, extended family and its geographical context in the rapidly changing arctic. "This is a twenty-first-century poetry, urgent, necessary, and of its time," says poet Carolyn Forché.

Enigma Variations by André Aciman

In Enigma Variations, Aciman charts the love life of a man named Paul, from adolescence in southern Italy where he falls for his parents' cabinetmaker, to his lust on tennis courts of New York. "Aciman has made a magnificent, living thing," writes The New York Times.

Skeleton Coast by Elizabeth Arnold

Arnold's collection explores the impact of encounters with evil. Fellow poet Jennifer Clarvoe describes each poem in the book as "a delicately fused mechanism, twisting around both still and moving parts, which the reader tracks silently on the way to inevitable, impeccable detonations."

The Correspondence by J. D. Daniels

In a series of six letters, Daniels takes the reader from Kentucky to Cambridge to Brazil, as he works as a janitor, a professor, and an exterminator. "Books like this are why I read," says Tom Bissell of Daniels's rumination on literature, psychology, and human existence. 

Hurricane Diane by Madeleine George

In Hurricane Diane, premiering at Two River Theater, Greek god Dionysus becomes Diane, a lesbian gardener from Vermont. George says of the play, “I was eager to write a play that offers people the chance to interrogate their own feelings about these climatic shifts that are happening whether we’re ready for them or not.”

Five Plays by Samuel D. Hunter

This collection of Hunter's work includes five plays all set in the playwright's home state of Idaho. Charles McNulty of the Los Angeles Times calls Samuel D. Hunter "a welcome theatrical voice from the American West."

How to Be Bored by Eva Hoffman

In the latest installment in the School of Life series, Hoffman considers how we can recover from the uninterrupted activity of our modern and digital age. Through psychoanalysis, neuroscience, and literature, Hoffman shows readers how to reconstruct meaningful lives.

The Midnight Cool by Lydia Peelle

In Peelle's debut novel, set in 1916, a middle-aged Irish immigrant and the teenage son of a prostitute join forces to sell a surprisingly valuable commodity for the troops in Europe—mules. Booklist writes, "the skillfully crafted characters are rendered with acute psychological insight into the moral dilemmas that shape one’s humanity."

The Abridged History of Rainfall by Jay Hopler

Hopler's collection, a finalist for the National Book Award in poetry, mourns the death of his father. "Even as they engage grief and loss," says fellow Whiting winner and poet Dana Levin, "the poems here are funny and sardonic, not afraid to wear their feelings on their sleeves; they're a tonic."