Colin Channer, Reyna Grande, Celeste Ng, and Jennifer Hershey to be Honored by Poets & Writers

(From left: Colin Channer, Reyna Grande, Celeste Ng, Jennifer Hershey.
Credits from left: MFC, Ara Arbabzadeh, Kieran Kesner, no credit.)

New York, NY – January 10, 2023 – Poets & Writers today announced that Colin Channer, Reyna Grande, and Celeste Ng will receive the 2023 Writers for Writers Award, and that Jennifer Hershey of Ballantine Bantam Dell, a division of Penguin Random House, will receive the 2023 Editor’s Award. A committee comprised of current and past members of the Poets & Writers Board of Directors selected the honorees. The committee’s chair, literary agent Eric Simonoff, commented: “We are thrilled to celebrate these three outstanding authors and one extraordinary editor, who have each shown a deep commitment to broadening the literary conversation. Through their dedication to writers and writing and their insistence on the importance of representation, they have enriched the publishing landscape immeasurably—to the benefit of us all.”

The awards will be presented at Poets & Writers’ gala on March 27, 2023, in New York City. Terry Finley, CEO of Books-A-Million, is the chair of the event. LeVar Burton will host.


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. Through their philanthropy, service, and dedication to writers and readers, this year’s honorees exemplify a commitment to community engagement, inclusivity, and empowerment.

Colin Channer is a prominent writer, poet, and monologist from Jamaica. His ten books include the poetry collection Console (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2023) and the novella The Girl with the Golden Shoes (Akashic, 2007). His first novel, Waiting in Vain (One World/Ballantine, 1998), was a national best-seller and Critic’s Choice selection of the Washington Post’s Book World, which described it as a “clear definition of the Caribbean novel.” His honors include a Cullman Fellowship from the New York Public Library, an Amy Clampitt Residency, fellowships in both fiction and poetry from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, and a Henry Merritt Wriston Fellowship from Brown University, where he teaches in the Department of Literary Arts. He is a co-founder of the Calabash International Literary Festival and served as artistic director and board chairman of the Calabash International Literary Festival Trust from 2001-2012, guiding the organization from its inception to its maturity as a leading presenter of writing workshops, literary performances for thousands, publishing seminars, and film screenings—all at no cost to the participants or the public. Through this work, Channer has made an indelible mark on world literature—supporting and encouraging writers from the African Black diaspora, the Americas, Europe, and Asia, and helping readers in the Caribbean and worldwide discover this work.

Mexican-born Reyna Grande is the author of the best-selling memoir, The Distance Between Us, which chronicles her separation from her parents, her border crossing, and her coming-of-age as an undocumented immigrant in California. It was a Book Critics Circle Award finalist; the young reader’s edition received an International Literacy Association Children’s Book Award. Her other books include Across a Hundred Mountains, Dancing with Butterflies, A Dream Called Home, and A Ballad of Love and Glory. She is also co-editor of Somewhere We Are Human: Authentic Voices on Migration, Survival, and New Beginnings, an anthology by and about undocumented Americans. She is the recipient of an American Book Award, a Luis Leal Award, and a Latino Spirit Award. A passionate advocate for Latinx and immigrant voices, Grande has facilitated discussions around migrant experiences, organized writing workshops for immigrant communities, served as a judge for several notable book awards, and mentored aspiring authors in writing programs such as Macondo, VONA, Bread Loaf, PEN America’s Emerging Voices, Under the Volcano, and others. Through these multi-faceted efforts, she has nurtured scores of writers and helped ensure that Latinx stories are told.

Celeste Ng is the No. 1 New York Times best-selling author of the novels Everything I Never Told You, Little Fires Everywhere, and Our Missing Hearts. She is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, and her work has been published in over thirty languages. A proponent for BIPOC representation within the publishing industry, Ng has sponsored internships for young BIPOC publishing professionals through We Need Diverse Books, among her many other advocacy efforts. In doing so, she has helped shine a light on the urgent need for change in an industry that has remained overwhelmingly white.

The honorees’ biographies can be found here.


The Editor’s Award recognizes a book editor who has made an outstanding contribution to the publication of poetry or literary prose over a sustained period of time. This year's recipient is Jennifer Hershey, senior vice president, publisher, and editor in chief for Ballantine Books, as well as editor at large for Random House.

In addition to overseeing the editorial department for the Ballantine, Bantam, and Dell lists, Hershey edits her own list of fiction and nonfiction. Her authors include Isabel Allende (A Long Petal of the Sea), Taylor Jenkins Reid (Carrie Soto is Back), Colum McCann (Apeirogon), Jodi Picoult (Wish You Were Here), Jennifer Finney Boylan and Jodi Picoult (Mad Honey), Laura Hillenbrand (Unbroken), Curtis Sittenfeld (Romantic Comedy), Diana Gabaldon (Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone), Carol Dweck, Emily Giffin (Meant to Be), Frances Cha (If I Had Your Face), Katherine Arden (The Bear and the Nightingale), Justin Cronin (The Ferryman), William Landay (All That I Carry Is Mine), Stephen Hawking (My Brief History), and Arthur Phillips (The King at the End of the World). In the past, she has also worked with authors such as Neal Stephenson, George R. R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, and Arthur C. Clarke. Prior to Ballantine, Hershey was the editorial director for Random House, editorial director for Putnam’s, and editor in chief for Morrow Avon.

Hershey’s biography can be found here.


Poets & Writers’ annual gala, In Celebration of Writers, will take place on Monday evening, March 27, 2023, at Pier Sixty in New York City. For tickets and additional information, visit


Poets & Writers is the primary source of information, support, and guidance for poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers throughout the United States. Our mission is to foster the professional development of poets and writers, promote communication throughout the literary community, and help create an environment in which literature can be appreciated by the widest possible public. 

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