Windham-Campbell Prize to host autumn festival virtually

Windham-Campbell Prize to host autumn festival virtually

The Windham-Campbell Prize will host its flagship autumn festival virtually this year, featuring the eight writers who were this year's recipients of a $165,000 (£119,000) writing grant.

Billed as one of the world's richest literary prizes, the annual English-language awards celebrate extraordinary literary achievement, rewarding each winner with an unrestricted grant to support their writing and allow them to focus on their work independent of financial concerns.

The prize's "Salon Series" will be streamed at 4 p.m. GMT each Wednesday from 15th September to 10th November, spanning nine episodes. Kicking off the first episode will be Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Michael R Jackson performing a selection of his songs, and giving an insight into his creative process. In the next instalment, 86-year-old memoirist Vivian Gornick will give the audience a glimpse into her Greenwich Village apartment, sharing what re-reading means to her, while Renee Gladman will collaborate with DJ and sound artist Val Jeanty on a performance blending music, words and arts.

In October, poet Natalie Scenters-Zapico will talk about borders and her pandemic postcard poetry project with husband José Ángel Maldonado, while Canisia Lubrin will cook and talk food and poetry with fellow Canadian-Caribbean writer Rinaldo Walcott.

Nathan Alan Davis will join fellow theatre artists to celebrate their creative industry, while translator Kate Briggs (pictured) invites her peers John Keene (a 2018 Windham-Campbell Prize recipient), Sawako Nakayasu and Johannes Göransson to explore the art of translation and its role in everyday life. Finally, former poet laureate of Toronto Dionne Brand will take the audience on a tour of public installations featuring her words and work around the city.

Each of these experiences will also see the writers consider objects curated from the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale Center for British Art, the Yale Art Gallery, and the Gilmore Music Library, as well as reading from their work and answering questions posed by their recipient peers. Throughout the episodes a chat box will be available for the audience to interact, followed by a live Zoom Q&A with each of the writers. 

The finale, produced by 5:00 Films & Media and presented by Matchbox Virtual Media, will take place on 10th November, when the Windham-Campbell Prizes 2021 keynote lecture "Why I Write" will be delivered by United States poet laureate Joy Harjo. 

The Windham-Campbell Prizes has also announced plan to reprise last year’s celebratory edition of the Yale Review, with specially commissioned new work by the 2021 prize recipients.

Mike Kelleher, director of the Windham-Campbell Prizes, said: "We are thrilled to have developed a blend of video and audience interaction that that will give an innovative, virtual platform to the extraordinary creativity of this year’s prize recipients. This is not just about literature with a capital ‘L’; these writers are creative in a myriad of different ways—singing, drawing, translating and much more—and in bringing this variety of creative expression to each episode, we hope to offer many different ways for a curious audience to engage with the prizes."