New York, NY—July 29, 2020—Poets & Writers announced today that the winners of the 2020 Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award are Simon Han for fiction and Brent Newsom for poetry. The prestigious award, which is generously supported by Maureen Mahon Egen, a member of Poets & Writers’ Board of Directors, aims to provide promising writers a network for professional advancement.
Each year, Poets & Writers selects one state (or Washington, D.C.), and invites writers from that jurisdiction to apply for the Writers Exchange Award. For 2020, the state of Oklahoma was chosen. Applications from Oklahoman writers were reviewed by poetry judge DéLana R.A. Dameron and fiction judge Eugene Lim. Excerpts from the winning manuscripts can be found at at.pw.org/wexaward.
Simon Han (left) and Brent Newsom (right) are the
winners of the 2020 Writers Exchange Award. (Credits: Chanhee Heo, M. Trey Reynolds.)
The Writers Exchange Award offers writers an unusual opportunity to meet agents, editors, authors, and others in aligned professions. Typically, the winners spend a week in New York City meeting with over a dozen literary professionals selected from their personal wish lists. Because of the pandemic, the format of the introductions will be very different this year: Poets & Writers will be scheduling a series of video chats for Mr. Han and Mr. Newsom, rather than a week of meetings over breakfast, lunch, coffees, and drinks. The result, we hope, will be much the same: the winners will gain insight and advice about writing, publishing, and marketing their work, and establish new professional contacts that will help them as they shape their careers in the years ahead. In addition, the winners will be offered a one-month residency at the Jentel Artist Residency Program in Banner, Wyoming.
In the past, as a direct result of winning the Writers Exchange Award, writers have had their books published, received fellowships, secured teaching positions, and laid the groundwork for their professional lives as writers. The award has helped to launch the careers of Sue Monk Kidd (The Invention of Wings, The Secret Life of Bees) and Lidia Yuknavitch (The Book of Joan), among others. To date, one-hundred-and-six writers from forty-two states and the District of Columbia have participated. A complete list of past winners can be found at at.pw.org/wexaward.
Simon Han’s debut novel, Nights When Nothing Happened, will be published by Riverhead Books in November 2020. He has most recently taught at the University of Tulsa, and is the recipient of a Tulsa Artist Fellowship. Though he’s planning to move to the Bay Area to be with his family, he will always have a place in his heart for Oklahoma.
Brent Newsom is the author of Love’s Labors (CavanKerry Press, 2015), which was a finalist for the Oklahoma Book Award in poetry, and he wrote the libretto for A Porcelain Doll, an opera based on the life of deafblind pioneer Laura Bridgman. His poems have also appeared in the Southern Review, the Hopkins Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, Cave Wall, and other journals. He lives and teaches in central Oklahoma.
The judges also cited runners-up John Andrews (in poetry) and Brenda Clark Thomas (in fiction).
About Poets & Writers
Poets & Writers was founded in 1970 and has been the primary source of trustworthy information, professional guidance, support, and inspiration for writers for fifty years. Our work is rooted in the belief that literature is vital to sustaining a vibrant culture. We focus on nurturing literature’s source: creative writers. Our mission is to foster the professional development of poets and writers, to promote communication throughout the literary community, and to help create an environment in which literature can be appreciated by the widest possible public. In celebration of its 50th Anniversary, Poets & Writers affirmed its vision for the future: to empower creative writers and strengthen literary communities throughout the United States. Learn more at pw.org.