Four Women Scholars Receive 2019 Whiting Awards

The Whiting Awards are given annually to 10 emerging writers in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama. Each winner receives a $50,000 prize. This year, six of the award winners are women; four of whom have current ties to higher education.

Terese Marie Mailhot is a 2019 winner in nonfiction. She is the author of Heart Berries: A Memoir (Counterpoint, 2018). Currently, she serves on creative writing faculty at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She also serves as a Tecumseh Postdoctoral Fellow at Purdue University.

Professor Mailhot is a graduate of New Mexico State University where she majored in English. She holds a master of fine arts degree in fiction from the Institute of American Indian Arts.

Nafissa Thompson-Spires is a 2019 winner in fiction. Her first book, Heads of the Colored People (Atria, 2018), was long-listed for the 2018 National Book Award, the PEN/ Robert W. Bingham Award, the PEN Open Book Award, and the Aspen Words Literary Prize, and was a finalist for the Kirkus Prize. Currently, she serves as an assistant professor of English, African American studies, and Jewish culture and society at the University of Illinois. As an academic she specializes in creative fiction writing, television studies, and 20th-century American literature.

Dr. Thompson-Spires holds a master of fine arts degree in creative writing from the University of Illinois and a Ph.D. in English from Vanderbilt University.

Vanessa Angélica Villarreal is a 2019 winner in poetry. Her collection, Beast Meridian (Noemi Press,  2017), is a 2019 Kate Tufts Discovery Award finalist and winner of the John A. Robertson Award for Best First Book of Poetry from the Texas Institute of Letters. She currently serves as a CantoMundo Fellow at the University of Southern California.

Villarreal is a graduate of the University of Houston where she majored in English and creative writing. She holds a master of fine arts degree in English and creative writing from the University of Colorado. She is expected to complete her Ph.D. in creative writing from the University of Southern California in 2021.

Lauren Yee is a 2019 winner in drama. She has written a number of plays including King of the Yees, The Great Leap, Cambodian Rock Band, Ching Chong Chinaman, and The Hatmaker’s Wife. Currently, she serves as a member of the Ma-Yi Theatre Writers Lab, a 2018/2019 Hodder fellow at Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts, and a New Dramatists playwright.

Yee is a graduate of Yale University. She holds a master of fine arts degree from the University of California, San Diego.

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