Windham-Campbell Prizes reveals innovative salon series

05 August 2021 - 12:07 By Hannah McMillan
The Windham-Campbell Prizes has announced that its flagship autumn festival will take place virtually this year.
The Windham-Campbell Prizes has announced that its flagship autumn festival will take place virtually this year.
Image: Supplied

The Windham-Campbell Prizes has announced that its flagship autumn festival will take place virtually this year, celebrating the eight extraordinary writers who received an unrestricted grant of $165,000 to support their writing in March 2021.

The Windham-Campbell Prizes innovative salon series will be streamed at 4pm GMT (6pm, SA time) each Wednesday from September 15 to November 10, showcasing the immense breadth of creativity displayed by this year’s recipients. Across nine episodes, the virtual audience will be taken on an international literary tour of words, music, performance and art.

  • Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Michael R. Jackson will perform a selection of his award-winning songs, and give an insight into his creative process (September 15)
  • 86-year-old iconic memoirist Vivian Gornick will give the audience a glimpse into her Greenwich Village apartment, sharing what re-reading means to her (September 22)
  • Artistic risk-taker Renee Gladman will collaborate with DJ and sound artist Val Jeanty on a performance blending music, words and arts (September 29)
  • Poet Natalie Scenters-Zapico will talk about borders and about her pandemic postcard poetry project with her husband, José Ángel Maldonado (October 6)
  • Canisia Lubrin will cook and talk food and poetry with fellow Canadian-Caribbean writer Rinaldo Walcott (October 13)
  • Nathan Alan Davis will come together with fellow theatre artists to celebrate their creative industry as we emerge from the pandemic (October 20)
  • Translator Kate Briggs invites her peers, 2018 Windham-Campbell Prize recipient John Keene, Sawako Nakayasu and Johannes Göransson to explore the art of this practice, and its role in everyday life (October 27)
  • Former Poet Laureate of Toronto Dionne Brand will take the audience on a tour of the public installations of her words and work around the city (November 3)

Each of these experiences will also see the writers asked to consider objects carefully 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 of this unique series of events – which has been produced by 5:00 Films & Media and will be presented by Matchbox Virtual Media – will take place on November 10, when the Windham-Campbell Prizes 2021 keynote lecture “Why I Write” will be delivered by US Poet Laureate Joy Harjo. The fourth book in Yale University Press’s Why I Write series, Of Solids and Surds, by last year’s iconic keynote speaker Samuel R Delany, will be published on September 14.

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 myriad 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.’

Administered by Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, the Prizes – awarded for fiction, non-fiction, poetry and drama – 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.

  • Issued by Hannah McMillan, Associate Director: Midas PR