2011 Writers for Writers Awards and Editor's Award Winners Announced

Contact: Linda Rondinelli
Assistant Director, Development and Marketing
Poets & Writers, Inc.
(212) 226-3586 x201, lrondinelli@pw.org

January 14, 2011

New York, NY – Poets & Writers has announced that Maria Mazziotti Gillan, John Grisham, and Elizabeth Nunez are the recipients of the 2011 Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award, and Jonathan Galassi is the recipient of the Editor’s Award.

“Each of the winners of this year’s Writers for Writers Award is devoted to nurturing a specific community of writers. In so doing, they have each enlarged our national literature and enriched the lives of readers everywhere,” said Elliot Figman, executive director of Poets & Writers, Inc. “As for Galassi,” Figman said of the recipient of the Editor’s Award, “one can hardly imagine contemporary American literature without him.”

The 2011 awards will be presented at Poets & Writers’ benefit dinner, In Celebration of Writers, on March 2, 2011, at Capitale in New York City. The chair of this year’s event is Michael Morrison, president and publisher, U.S. General Books and Canada, HarperCollins Publishers. Paul Rudnick, the playwright, screenwriter, and author most recently of I Shudder: and Other Reactions to Life, Death, and New Jersey (Harper, 2009), will serve as master of ceremonies. Continuing a Poets & Writers tradition, authors will be seated at each table. Among those serving as literary table hosts this year are Elizabeth Alexander, Jonathan Franzen, Erica Jong, Wally Lamb, Sam Lipsyte, Peter Straub, and many other notable writers.

Tickets to the dinner begin at $500 per person. In addition, Poets & Writers will host an After Party with tickets offered at $25. The evening is expected to generate over $350,000, with proceeds to support Poets & Writers’ extensive programs for creative writers.

The Writers for Writers Award was established by Poets & Writers in 1996 to recognize authors who have given generously to other writers or to the broader literary community. The title of the award has been given to Barnes & Noble in appreciation of their sponsorship of Poets & Writers. The Editor’s Award was established in 2009 to recognize a book editor who has made an outstanding contribution to the publication of poetry or literary prose over a sustained period of time.


Jonathan Galassi is the president and publisher of Farrar, Straus and Giroux (FSG). He began his career as an editor at Houghton Mifflin Company in 1973, worked at Random House in the early 1980s, and joined FSG as vice-president and executive editor in 1986. Among the distinguished authors he has worked with at FSG are: Frank Bidart, Michael Cunningham, Jeffrey Eugenides, Jonathan Franzen, Ian Frazier, Nadine Gordimer, Seamus Heaney, Denis Johnson, Jamaica Kincaid, Alice McDermott, John McPhee, Paul Muldoon, Robert Pinsky, Marilynne Robinson, Frederick Seidel, Susan Sontag, Mario Vargas Llosa, Derek Walcott, C.K. Williams, and Charles Wright. Galassi is the author of two books of poems: Morning Run (Paris Review Editions, 1988) and North Street (HarperCollins, 2000) and of translations of the poetry of Eugenio Montale (FSG, 1998) and Giacomo Leopardi (FSG, 2010).

Maria Mazziotti Gillan has promoted literature in Paterson, NJ, for more than thirty years. She is the founder and executive director of the Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College in Paterson, NJ and the editor of the Paterson Literary Review. She coordinated and created the Allen Ginsberg Awards, the Paterson Poetry Book Prize, the Paterson Fiction Book Prize, and the Prize for Books for Young People, and for many years has organized readings and workshops in public schools, as well as for adults and senior citizens, in Paterson. Through POETRYWORKS/USA she created a cable television program to highlight poetry and fiction by regional and national poets and writers. She directs the Creative Writing Program at Binghamton University-State University of New York, where she is Professor of Poetry. She has published twelve books of poetry, including All That Lies Between Us (Guernica Editions, 2007) which won the American Book Award. Her most recent book is What We Pass On: Collected Poems 1980-2009 (Guernica Editions, 2010).

John Grisham has done much to enrich the literary tradition of the American South. He was the publisher and principal investor in The Oxford American, and has endowed scholarships and writers’ residencies at the University of Mississippi, where he attended the School of Law, after graduating from Mississippi State University. Grisham practiced criminal law for a decade. Since the publication of his first book, A Time to Kill (Wynwood Press) in 1989, Grisham has written one novel each year, including The Firm (Bantam Dell, 1991), The Pelican Brief (Doubleday, 1992) and The Client (Doubleday, 1993) and each has become an international bestseller. There are currently more than 250 million John Grisham books in print worldwide. His novels have been translated into 38 languages and nine of them have been adapted for film.

Elizabeth Nunez is a champion of American writers of color. She co-founded the National Black Writers Conference and served as its director for eighteen years. She also chaired the PEN American Center’s Open Book committee, helping to launch the PEN Beyond Margins award for writers of color. She was executive producer for the 2004 Emmy nominated CUNY TV series, Black Writers in America, aired on public television stations across the country. Currently, she conducts creative writing workshops for community residents in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. Nunez received her PhD in English from New York University and is a Distinguished Professor at Hunter College, the City University of New York, where she teaches creative writing. She is the award-winning author of seven novels, including Anna In-Between (Akashic Books, 2009), Prospero's Daughter (Ballantine Books, 2006), and Bruised Hibiscus (Seal Press, 2000), which won the American Book Award.

Past recipients of the Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award include Edward Albee, Judy Blume, Mary Higgins Clark,  E.L. Doctorow, Junot Díaz, Stephen King, Barbara Kingsolver, Maxine Hong Kingston, Wally Lamb, Walter Mosley, Susan Sontag, and Amy Tan. The Editor’s Award was established in 2009 and has been awarded to Daniel Halpern and Pat Strachan.