The Windham-Campbell Prizes have announced the inspiring programme for its annual festival, including legendary music critic Greil Marcus, who will deliver the keynote address “Why I Write” at the 2023 Prize Ceremony.
Eight writers, as previously announced in April of this year and who received an unrestricted Windham-Campbell grant of $175,000 USD to support their writing, will be celebrated at the 2023 Prize Ceremony, in a ceremony taking place during the festival which runs from September 19 – 22 at Yale University Campus. They are:
- Percival Everett, the prolific and multi-award-winning writer, lauded for over thirty works of fiction and poetry including the Booker Prize-shortlisted The Trees (United States, fiction)
- Ling Ma, who has been praised for staking out new and original ground in her debut novel Severance and subsequent short story collection Bliss Montage (United States, fiction)
- Susan Williams, the historian and writer whose works explore concealed and neglected pasts through destroyed, classified, or redacted evidence (United Kingdom, nonfiction)
- Darran Anderson, the essayist, journalist, and memoirist whose writing sits at the intersections of culture, politics, urbanism, and technology (Ireland/United Kingdom, nonfiction)
- Dominique Morisseau, the TONY-nominated playwright, whose much-acclaimed body of work includes the cycle of plays The Detroit Project, the Broadway musical Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations, and Showtime series Shameless (United States, drama)
- Jasmine Lee-Jones, who is widely recognized as a trailblazer and important voice in global theater with her debut play seven methods of killing kylie jenner (United Kingdom, drama)
- Alexis Pauline Gumbs, the activist, critic, poet, scholar, educator and self-described “Queer Black Troublemaker and Black Feminist Love Evangelist” (United States, poetry)
- dg nanouk okpik, a poet of both great achievement and great promise whose poetry opens readers to a complex web of culture, ecology, and myth (Iñupiaq-Inuit, poetry)
The fall festival showcases the extraordinary range of talent across the Windham-Campbell Prize with a series of thought-provoking lectures, screenings, and performances from this year’s recipients and alumni. Highlights include:
Wednesday, September 20:
- Yale University President Peter Salovey presents the 2023 awards in drama, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, and legendary music and cultural critic Greil Marcus delivers the annual Windham-Campbell Lecture “Why I Write.”
Thursday, September 21:
- Co-hosted by the Black Feminist Collective at Yale University, Erica R. Edwards moderates a conversation about Black feminist authorship with 2023 Windham-Campbell Prize recipients Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Jasmine Lee-Jones, and Dominique Morisseau.
- Darran Anderson, Percival Everett, Ling Ma, and dg nanouk okpik will share their journeys to becoming writers with Prize Director Michael Kelleher.
- Susan Williams launches the paperback of the shocking, untold account, White Malice: The CIA and Covert Recolonization of Africa in conversation with Dan Magaziner, Professor of History and African Studies at Yale University.
- Percival Everett and Brian Kane will be holding a close listening and discussion on Arthur Schoenberg’s Opus 19, “Six Little Piano Pieces” in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.
- Novelist Ling Ma and poet and critic Richard Deming will be conducting a creative reading of a single scene from Francis Ford Coppola’s 1975 classic The Conversation.
- Darran Anderson will guide the audience in an exploration of the Golden Records onboard the Voyager spacecraft, the furthest manmade object from the Earth and possibly the last songs and traces of humanity in the far-flung future.
- In an event co-hosted by the Whitney Humanities Center, there will be a screening of filmmaker Alexandre Westphal and writer Percival Everett’s film exploring the myriad and fascinating ways that Everett’s books reveal contemporary America to itself.
Friday, September 22:
- Darran Anderson and Bonnie Weir will be discussing the civil rights movement in Northern Ireland that came to be known as the Troubles, and how this movement and the people in it found their voices, stories, and songs by delving into and reimagining the past.
- Students from Yale’s Native American Cultural Center interview poet dg nanouk okpik about her life and work, with a focus on what it means to write in America as an Inuit/Iñupiaq woman.
- To celebrate the paperback launch of her award-winning story collection, Bliss Montage, Ling Ma will be in conversation with literary critic Anthony Domestico.
- Percival Everett will discuss the ways he uses oil paints, watercolors, and photographs in his series of paintings to commemorate the century anniversary of the Red Summer which create an American landscape that is ever-present, but often conveniently ignored. Yale Art Gallery
- Jasmine Lee-Jones and award-winning author Dan Charnas, author of Dilla Time: The Life and After Life of J. Dilla, will be listening to and dissecting a selection of tracks from the legendary producer and artist.
- Discover the story of King Seretse Khama in a special film screening of A United Kingdom, which is based on the book Color Bar by Susan Williams.
- Alexis Pauline Gumbs takes us on a trip through the life of ‘OG Black Troublemaker’ and poet Audre Lorde and a blessing including original archival materials from the Beinecke.
The festival also marks the return of its annual closing event, which sees all 2023 recipients deliver a short reading on the final evening. Daily Wake Up sessions will be held at 10am, offering attendees free coffee and treats, book giveaways and a short readings by prize recipients from their contributions to an upcoming issue of The Yale Review, hosted by Meghan O’Rourke, editor of The Yale Review.
Michael Kelleher, Director of the Windham-Campbell Prizes, said: “We are thrilled to be able to come together once again at Yale to recognise the incredible talents of the 2023 recipients of the Windham Campbell Prizes and celebrate what inspires their own work.”
This major global prize recognizes eight writers each year for literary achievement across four categories – fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and drama. With annual prize money exceeding $1.4m USD – and total prize money awarded over the past decade at almost $16m USD – they are one of the most significant prizes in the world, allowing recipients to focus on their work independent of financial concerns.
The Prizes are administered by Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, and nominees for the Prizes are considered by judges who remain anonymous before and after the prize announcement. Recipients write in the English language and may live in any part of the world.
The Prizes were the brainchild of lifelong partners Donald Windham and Sandy M. Campbell. The couple were deeply involved in literary circles, collected books avidly, read voraciously as well as penning various works. For years they had discussed the idea of creating an award to highlight literary achievement and provide writers with the opportunity to focus on their work independent of financial concerns. When Campbell passed away unexpectedly in 1988, Windham took on the responsibility for making this shared dream a reality. The first prizes were announced in 2013.
Previous recipients include Tsitsi Dangarembga (Fiction, Zimbabwe, 2022), Margo Jefferson (Nonfiction, United States, 2022), Vivian Gornick (Nonfiction, United States, 2021), Bhanu Kapil (Poetry, United Kingdom, 2020), Kwame Dawes (Poetry, United States, Jamaica, Ghana, 2019), Cathy Park Hong (Poetry, United States, 2018), Lorna Goodison (Poetry, Jamaica/Canada, 2018), Suzan-Lori Parks (Drama, United States, 2018), Marina Carr (Drama, Ireland, 2017), C. E. Morgan (Fiction, United States, 2016), Helen Garner (Nonfiction, Australia, 2016), Edmund de Waal (Nonfiction, United Kingdom, 2015), Teju Cole (Fiction, United States/Nigeria, 2015), Helon Habila (Fiction, Nigeria, 2015), Pankaj Mishra (Fiction, India, 2014), Jeremy Scahill (Nonfiction, United States, 2013) and James Salter (Fiction, United States, 2013).