Bennington Writing Prizes of $250 are awarded in each of the writing genres; three issues of the online anthology feature a poem, story, or essay selected by well-known practitioners in their respective fields. In the new monthly publishing format that will begin for plain china 2012, the winning works will appear in the April, September, and December 2013 issues.
Previous judges have included The Atlantic fiction editor C. Michael Curtis, essayist Susan Cheever, and poet April Bernard (2009); Michael Curtis, essayist and anthologist Philip Lopate, and poet Ellen Bryant Voigt (2010); novelist and essayist Jonathan Lethem, Paris Review editor Lorin Stein, and poet, translator, and former American Poetry Review editor Eleanor Wilner (2011).
Judges for plain china: Best Undergraduate Writing 2012 are 2012 Pulitzer Prize winner for poetry, Tracy K. Smith; journalist and New Yorker staff writer Susan Orlean; and acclaimed novelist Sue Miller.
Sue Miller, Fiction Judge
Best-selling novelist Sue Miller is the author of ten novels and a memoir. Two of her novels, The Good Mother and Inventing the Abbotts, have been adapted for major motion pictures. She served in 2003 as guest editor for the Best American Short Stories anthology and is currently at work on her latest novel. Here’s a video of Miller discussing her latest novel, The Lake Shore Limited. Also, read this comprehensive biography and interview with the author, in which she discusses her favorite books, music, the path to becoming a writer, and tips for aspiring authors.
Susan Orlean, Nonfiction Judge
Susan Orlean has written eight books, including Rin Tin Tin, Saturday Night, and The Orchid Thief, which was made into the Academy Award–winning film, Adaptation. She has been a staff writer for The New Yorker since 1992, and has contributed to Rolling Stone, Vogue, and Esquire, among other magazines. She served as guest editor for the 2005 Best American Essays and for Best American Travel Writing 2007. See the original article Orlean wrote for The New Yorker that later became The Orchid Thief. And check out this video of Orlean selecting books she would want to have on a desert island.
Tracy K. Smith, Poetry Judge
Tracy K. Smith is the author of Life on Mars, winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in poetry. Her two previous collections also received national recognition: Duende won the James Laughlin Award and the Essence Literary Award, and The Body’s Question won the Cave Canem Poetry Prize. She is also the recipient of the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award and a Whiting Writers’ Award, and was a finalist for the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work. From 2009 through 2011, she was a protégé in the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative; currently, she teaches creative writing at Princeton University. See the Academy of American Poets bio of Smith, listen to her read her poem “Duende,” and hear her guest-read the news on NPR.
Coming up for 2013
We’re upholding the tradition of outstanding judges for the Writing Prizes: Jericho Brown will be judging for poetry; Jack Beatty for nonfiction; and Lydia Davis for fiction.
Lydia Davis is best known for her short stories—and by “short,” we mean short (here’s a couple). She has won the Man Booker International Prize and was nominated for the National Book Award. Davis is also the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship. If you don’t know where to start, we recommend her big orange book of Collected Stories.
Jack Beatty is a commentator on the weekday NPR show, On Point. His book, The Rascal King, won an American Book Award and was nominated for the National Book Critics’ Circle Award. A longtime senior editor at The Atlantic, Beatty is also a Poynter Fellow at Yale, the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, two Alfred P. Sloan Foundation research grants, a William Allen White Award for Criticism, and he shared an Olive Branch Award for an Atlantic article on arms control.
Jericho Brown’s first collection of poetry, Please, won the 2009 American Book Award. Brown was also the recipient of a 2009-10 Bunting Fellowship from the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University. His poetry has appeared in The American Poetry Review, The Believer, Oxford American, Tin House and 100 Best African American Poems. See his website for more news.