2020 Whiting Creative Nonfiction Grants, Feminist Press at Fifty, and More

by Staff

Every day Poets & Writers Magazine scans the headlines—publishing reports, literary dispatches, academic announcements, and more—for all the news that creative writers need to know. Here are today’s stories.

The Whiting Foundation has awarded its 2020 Whiting Creative Nonfiction Grants to eight writers—Rachel Aviv, Chloé Cooper Jones, Carina del Valle Schorske, Ben Goldfarb, Ferris Jabr, Blair LM Kelley, Brandon Shimoda, and Salamishah Tillet—who will each receive $40,000. First awarded in 2016, the grants are designed to support “writers in the process of completing a book of deeply researched and imaginatively composed nonfiction.”

At the New York Times, Glynnis MacNicol writes about the past, present, and future of the Feminist Press, which is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary this year. “Without the Feminist Press, we might not have known that women have always been writing our hearts out,” says Gloria Steinem. 

Literary Review has canceled this year’s Bad Sex in Fiction Award. Established in 1993, the prize typically honors “the year’s most outstandingly awful scene of sexual description in an otherwise good novel.” The judges noted that “the public had been subjected to too many bad things this year to justify exposing it to bad sex as well.” (Guardian)

“The idea of the fraudulent idea, the idea that you are tricking yourself into humiliating yourself, and that stopping yourself from writing is the only way to protect yourself, this is a potent source of writers’ block.” Alexander Chee muses on writers’ block. (Medium)

“Living in the Midwest as a Black writer with the backdrop of migration uniquely positioned me to revisit the past and ponder the future.” At the Rumpus, Kelly Harris-DeBerry, the author of Freedom Knows My Name, charts her origin story as a poet. (Harris-DeBerry is also the New Orleans literary outreach coordinator for Poets & Writers.)

“Visiting dead writers’ and artists’ houses is akin to the experience of reading itself: you walk through the past and through someone else’s life and space without becoming them.” Phoebe Hamilton Jones writes about the magic of dead writers’ homes, recalling visits to Charleston Farmhouse in Sussex, England, a creative refuge for the Bloomsbury group. (Literary Hub)

The editors at Vanity Fair have selected their top fifteen books of the year, including Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu and Real Life by Brandon Taylor.

Amy Collier explains how dating during the pandemic feels like courtship in a Jane Austen novel. In both worlds, dating “includes many brisk walks.” (New Yorker)