Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award

Established in 1984, the Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award introduces emerging writers to the New York City literary community. The prestigious award, which aims to provide promising writers a network for professional advancement, has helped to launch the careers of Sue Monk Kidd (The Invention of Wings, The Secret Life of Bees), David Mura (Turning Japanese: Memoirs of a Sansei), Craig Santos Perez (from unincorporated territory [åmot]), Mona Simpson (Case), Lidia Yuknavitch (Thrust), and others. Since Poets & Writers began the Writers Exchange in 1984, 112 writers from forty-four states and the District of Columbia have been selected to participate. The award is generously supported by Maureen Mahon Egen, a member of the Poets & Writers Emeritus Board.

Poets & Writers Invites Native American Writers to Apply for 2024 Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award

Indigenous writers who are enrolled members of a Native American tribe in the contiguous United States or Alaska are invited to apply for the 2024 Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award. One fiction writer and one poet will be selected. Winners receive an all-expenses-paid trip to New York City to meet with top literary professionals, including editors, agents, publishers, and prominent writers. This year’s judges are Kelli Jo Ford for fiction and Jake Skeets for poetry. Entries must be submitted by March 1, 2024.


Meet the 2024 Judges

Jake Skeets and Kelli Jo Ford are the judges of the 2024 Writers Exchange Award.
(Credits: Deanna Dent; Adam Ewing)

Kelli Jo Ford is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. Her novel-in-stories debut, Crooked Hallelujah, was longlisted for the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel, the Story Prize, the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction, the Dublin Literary Award, and the Center for Fiction's First Novel Prize. She is the recipient of honors and awards including a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship, the Paris Review’s Plimpton Prize, a Creative Capital Award, and a Native Arts & Cultures Foundation Artist Fellowship. She teaches writing at the Institute of American Indian Arts.

Jake Skeets is the author of Eyes Bottle Dark with a Mouthful of Flowers, winner of the National Poetry Series, American Book Award, Kate Tufts Discovery Award, and Whiting Award. His poetry and prose have appeared widely in journals and magazines including Poetry, the New York Times Magazine, and the Paris Review. He holds an MFA in Poetry from the Institute of American Indian Arts. His honors include a National Endowment for the Arts Grant for Arts Projects, a Mellon Projecting All Voices Fellowship, and the 2023-2024 Grisham Writer-in-Residence at the University of Mississippi. He is from the Navajo Nation and teaches at the University of Oklahoma.


David Ehmcke and Jesus "Chuy" Renteria of Iowa Win 2023 Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award

The winners of the 2023 Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award are David Ehmcke for poetry and Jesus "Chuy" Renteria for fiction. The judges were Megan Fernandes for poetry and Alejandro Varela for fiction. In September, the two winners will travel to New York City to meet with agents, editors, authors, and other publishing professionals. In addition, the winners will each receive a $500 honorarium and present a reading for the public, hosted by Poets & Writers; and be invited to participate in a one-month residency at the Jentel Artist Residency Program in Banner, Wyoming.

Read the Press Release.

Here's what Megan Fernandes had to say about David's winning submission, What's Left.

"I read these astonishing poems in a wild, voracious awe. The stars rot quietly. The clouds clot the sky. A street witch declares freedom for those who love has failed. This poet somehow makes lush, cinematic, and gossamery that paralytic state of existential dread. It is so difficult to give the abyss a face and yet the speaker asks questions into the void or to a phantom beloved and renders them fully dimensional. Everything happens simultaneously: docked canoes, an invented body in which to hide, a twitching brow. The poet takes it all in with an observational optics that is energetic, summoning, and never passive. It's hard not to be hyperbolic about this work: it flies off the page. I forgot I was reading and just lived in them and at their mercy."

Read an excerpt from David Ehmcke's manuscript, 2023 winner in poetry. (PDF)

Here's what Alejandro Varela had to say about Chuy's winning submission, Maijoma, My Sister

"A beautiful and at times chilling portrayal of dislocation and the ways in which immigration shapes and defines our experiences. The themes of return and siblinghood anchor this affecting tale about a Mexican American family whose children are ill at ease in their country and the country of their parents where culture, family, and even love remain just out of reach. The writer skillfully juggles time and suspense, in the process reminding us life is merely a series of escapades during which we trudge along hopeful, arms extended."

Read an excerpt from Jesus "Chuy" Renteria's manuscript, 2023 winner in fiction. (PDF)


Past Winners 

  • Paige Ackerson-Kiely, Vermont
  • Constance Alexander, Kentucky
  • Nolde Alexius, Louisiana
  • Doug Anderson, Massachusetts
  • Kimo Armitage, Hawai‘i
  • Elaine Beale, California (*)
  • Sandra Beasley, Washington, D.C.
  • Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo, California (*)
  • Sean Bernard, California (*)
  • Chana Bloch, California
  • Magda Bogin, New York
  • Jonathan Bolt, West Virginia
  • Anthony C. Brusate, Kentucky
  • B. J. Buckley, Montana
  • Claudia Burbank, New Jersey
  • John Caddy, Minnesota
  • John Campbell, Oregon
  • Karen Chamberlain, Utah
  • Bryn Chancellor, Alabama
  • Michael Chitwood, North Carolina
  • Sanda Moore Coleman, Kansas
  • Larry Colker, California (*)
  • Carolyn Coman, Massachusetts
  • Lydia A. Cyrus, West Virginia
  • Laura Joyce Davis, California (*)
  • Daniel Degnan, New Jersey
  • Courtney Denelle, Rhode Island
  • Joan Dempsey, Maine
  • Janet Desaulniers, Illinois
  • Denise Duhamel, Pennsylvania
  • Kim Edwards, Ohio
  • David Ehmcke, Iowa
  • John Engman, Minnesota
  • Brian Evans-Jones, Maine
  • Blas Falconer, Tennessee
  • Roger Fanning, Washington
  • José Faus, Kansas
  • Sascha Feinstein, Indiana
  • Bryan Allen Fierro, Alaska
  • David Galef, Mississippi
  • Dorothy Gannon, Vermont
  • Kate Gaskin, Nebraska
  • Elizabeth Graver, Massachusetts
  • Kate Green, Minnesota
  • Simon Han, Oklahoma
  • Jean Hanson, Wyoming
  • Charlotte Holmes, Pennsylvania
  • Joshua Idaszak, Arkansas
  • Anushah Jiwani, Arkansas
  • Matthew Kailey, Colorado
  • Laura Kasischke, Michigan
  • Sue Monk Kidd, South Carolina
  • Miriam Kuznets, Texas
  • Gene Kwak, Nebraska
  • Mary La Chapelle, Minnesota
  • Robert Lacy, Minnesota
  • Dylan Landis, California (*)
  • Joseph Langdon, Nevada
  • Jeanne Leiby, Florida
  • Lisa Lewis, Texas
  • Steven L'Italien, Arizona
  • Quitman Marshall, South Carolina
  • Deirdra McAfee, Virginia
  • Shena McAuliffe, Missouri
  • Jeanne McDonald, Tennessee
  • Mollye Miller, Maryland
  • Harry Moore, Alabama
  • Jim Moore, Minnesota
  • Lee Ann Mortenson, Utah
  • Delisa Mulkey, Georgia
  • David Mura, Minnesota
  • Patrick Murtagh, Montana
  • Rhonda Nelson, Florida
  • Brent Newsom, Oklahoma
  • Fae Myenne Ng, California
  • Elizabeth Oness, Wisconsin
  • Jill Osier, Alaska
  • Craig Santos Perez, California (*)
  • David Peterman, Ohio
  • Paul Pfeiffer, Indiana
  • Rosemary Powers, Nevada
  • C. L. Rawlins, Wyoming
  • Jesus "Chuy" Renteria, Iowa
  • David Reynolds, Michigan
  • Brad Richard, Louisiana
  • Andrés Rodriguez, Missouri
  • Ruth Roston, Minnesota
  • Angela Rydell, Wisconsin
  • Diza Sauers, Arizona
  • Nancy Schoenberger, New York
  • Adam Schwartz, Maryland
  • Rebecca Seiferle, New Mexico
  • Barbara Selfridge, California
  • David Dean Shavit, Illinois
  • Pamela Shephard, New Mexico
  • Aleda Shirley, Mississippi
  • Mona Simpson, New York
  • Gregory Blake Smith, Minnesota
  • Matthew Stadler, Washington
  • Norman Stock, New York
  • Susan Straight, California
  • Craig Taylor, California
  • Willett Thomas, Washington, D.C.
  • Alicia Upano, Hawai‘i
  • Reetika Vaziriani, Virginia
  • Jodie Noel Vinson, Rhode Island
  • Jane Wampler, Colorado
  • Lauren K. Watel, Georgia
  • David Weaver, North Carolina
  • Susan Welch, Minnesota
  • Allison Benis White, California (*)
  • Lidia Yuknavitch, Oregon

(*) Winners of the California Writers Exchange, which was offered periodically from 2004 to 2013, with support from the James Irvine Foundation.

Read more about past WEX Award Winners. (PDF) 

Read an essay by past winner Brian Evans-Jones.(PDF)

Watch a video of past winner Sandra Beasley speaking about the award.