Reginald Dwayne Betts, Neil Gaiman, Roxana Robinson, and Dawn Davis to be Honored by Poets & Writers

New York, NY -- January 8, 2019 -- Poets & Writers today announced that the 2019 Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Awards will be given to Reginald Dwayne Betts,  Neil Gaiman, and Roxana Robinson. The 2019 Editor’s Award will be presented to Dawn Davis of 37 Ink, an imprint of the Atria Publishing Group, a division of Simon & Schuster.

Each year Poets & Writers invites writers, publishing professionals, and others in the literary community to submit nominations for these awards. Novelist Susan Isaacs, chairman of Poets & Writers’ Board of Directors, heads the committee charged with selecting the honorees. Of the 2019 honorees, Isaacs said: “This year’s award recipients are individuals who have done great things for the literary community. Each of them has a commitment to telling essential stories, to making sure a range of voices is heard, and to building up the literary community. I cannot think of a time when such efforts were more important than they are now, so we are delighted to honor them for their good work.”

The Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award

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. It is named for Barnes & Noble in appreciation of the company’s long-standing sponsorship of Poets & Writers. The three writers we honor this year have not only inspired us with their own writing, they are dedicated to championing other writers and to using the power of words to inspire and spark change. 

Reginald Dwayne Betts is a poet and memoirist. His latest collection of poetry, Bastards of the Reagan Era, received a PEN New England Award in Poetry, and his memoir, A Question of Freedom: A Memoir of Learning, Survival, and Coming of Age in Prison, was the recipient of an NAACP Image Award. Betts is a graduate of the Yale Law School, a Guggenheim Fellow, and an Emerson Fellow at New America. A tireless advocate for reform of the criminal and juvenile justice systems, he frequently donates his time as a spokesperson and lecturer to bring visibility and awareness to these causes. He has made countless visits into prisons and juvenile centers to share his poetry and to speak about the power of reading, literacy, and mentorship with those incarcerated. 

Neil Gaiman writes books for children and adults, graphic novels and non-fiction, including American Gods, The Graveyard Book, and Norse Mythology. He is also a screenwriter, a poet, and makes films and television. He uses his platform as an award-winning and beloved writer to speak and write about the importance of libraries, literacy, and freedom of expression worldwide, and to give advice and encouragement to writers of all ages, genders, and nationalities. His most influential speeches, such as Make Good Art, given to graduates at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, have been read and heard by millions of people.

Roxana Robinson is the author of Cost, Sparta, and three other novels. She is also the author of three story collections and an acclaimed biography of Georgia O’Keeffe. Robinson is a long-standing, fierce, and outspoken advocate for authors. She recently served as president of the Authors Guild, and for nearly two decades she has supervised Word of Mouth, a support network providing connection and community for women fiction writers. She has been a trustee for both the National Humanities Center and PEN America, and serves on the writers councils of both the Center for Fiction and  Poets & Writers. 

The honorees’ biographies can be found here.

The Editor’s Award

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 Dawn Davis, vice president and publisher of 37 Ink, an imprint of the Atria Publishing Group, a division of Simon & Schuster.

Throughout her career, Davis has worked to advance diverse and historically marginalized voices in publishing. Since launching 37 Ink, she has published numerous notable books including the National Book Award-longlisted Heads of the Colored People: Stories by Nafissa Thompson-Spires; the National Book Award finalist for non-fiction, Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge by Erica Armstrong Dunbar; and the New York Times best-seller The Butler: A Witness to History by Wil Haygood. Prior to joining Simon & Schuster, she directed the Amistad imprint at HarperCollins where she published the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Known World by Edward P. Jones.

Ms. Davis's biography can be found here.

In Celebration of Writers

The awards will be presented at Poets & Writers’ annual dinner, In Celebration of Writers, on Thursday evening, March 7, 2019, at 583 Park Avenue in New York City. The chair of this year’s event is Madeline McIntosh, chief executive officer of Penguin Random House U.S. Susan Isaacs will present the awards on behalf of the Board of Directors. Michael Cunningham will serve as the evening’s master of ceremonies. 

Tickets to the dinner begin at $500 per person. The evening is expected to generate over $500,000, with proceeds to support Poets & Writers’ programs for creative writers.

Information about tickets for the event can be found here.

About Poets & Writers

Founded in 1970, Poets & Writers has been the primary source of trustworthy information, professional guidance, support, and inspiration for writers for nearly 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. Learn more at

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