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. Winning works will appear in the April, September, and December 2015 issues; other issues will feature Honorable Mentions selected by the judges in each genre. Prize winners will be announced with the launch of plain china 2014 on April 1.
For the 2014 anthology, we’ve upheld a six-year tradition of stellar judges: Ian Frazier for nonfiction; Pam Houston for fiction; and Major Jackson for poetry.
Poetry Prize Judge
Major Jackson is the author of four poetry collections: Roll Deep (2015), Holding Company (2010), Hoops (2006), and Leaving Saturn (2002), winner of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize and finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award (listen to him read his poem “Forecast” for Poetry out Loud). Jackson currently serves as a faculty member at the University of Vermont and the Bennington Writing Seminars and is the poetry editor of the Harvard Review. His honors include a Whiting Writers’ Award and a Pew Fellowship in the Arts. Jackson was born and raised in Philadelphia and now resides in South Burlington, Vermont and on Twitter, as @poet_major.
Fiction Prize Judge
Pam Houston is the author of five books, including the novel Sight Hound and the short story collection Cowboys Are My Weakness, named a New York Times Notable Book. Her stories have been selected for The Best American Short Stories 1999, The 2013 Pushcart Prize, and The Best American Short Stories of the Century. She served in 2000 as a prize judge for the O. Henry Awards, alongside Michael Cunningham and George Saunders. Read an interview with Pam Houston on The Rumpus about the blurry line between fiction and nonfiction. And listen to the author read from her latest novel, Contents May Have Shifted.
Nonfiction Prize Judge
Ian Frazier has written eleven books, including On the Rez, Family, and Travels in Siberia. His work has appeared in The New Yorker since 1974, and he has also contributed feature articles and humorous essays to The New York Review of Books, Harper’s, The Atlantic, and Outside. He served as a guest editor for The Best American Essays 1997 and Best American Travel Writing 2003. Check out this interview with the author about the role of history in nonfiction writing and hear him discuss on NPR the importance of place in his work.
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); Pulitzer Prize winner Tracy K. Smith for poetry, journalist and New Yorker staff writer Susan Orlean for nonfiction, and acclaimed novelist Sue Miller for fiction (2012); long-time Atlantic senior editor Jack Beatty for nonfiction, American Book Award-winner Jericho Brown for poetry, and Man Booker Prize-winner Lydia Davis for fiction.
Judges’ bios contributed by plain china editors Bruna Labato and Jeva Lange, both class of 2015.