Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Anaïs Duplan and Nana Nkweti have won 2022 Whiting Awards, Duplan in the category of Nonfiction and Nkweti in Fiction. Whiting Awards of $50,000 are given annually to writers in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama, based on accomplishment and promise. They are awarded with the goal of supporting writers early in their careers so they can focus on their work.

Anaïs Duplan and Nana Nkweti
Anaïs Duplan and Nana Nkweti (Photos: Beowulf Sheehan)

Anaïs Duplan (MFA, 2017) is a trans* poet, curator, and artist. He is the author of the newly released book I NEED MUSIC (Action Books, 2021), a book of essays, Blackspace: On the Poetics of an Afrofuture (Black Ocean, 2020), a full-length poetry collection, Take This Stallion (Brooklyn Arts Press, 2016), and a chapbook, Mount Carmel and the Blood of Parnassus (Monster House Press, 2017). He has taught poetry at The New School, Bennington, Columbia, and Sarah Lawrence, amongst others. As an independent curator, he has facilitated curatorial projects in Chicago, Boston, Santa Fe, and Reykjavík. He was a 2017-2019 joint Public Programs fellow at the MoMA and the Studio Museum in Harlem, and in 2021 received a Marian Goodman fellowship from Independent Curators International for his research on Black experimental documentary. In 2016, he founded the Center for Afrofuturist Studies, an artist residency program for artists of color, based at Iowa City’s artist-run organization Public Space One.

From the committee:

"Most criticism aims for an authoritative finality of statement. The joy in reading Anaïs Duplan’s capacious and incisive writings is seeing his thought in the process of its own radical and inclusive making; he refuses to have the last word. This is criticism as pleasure, community, experiment. Duplan’s sinuous and improvisatory work devotes itself to the work of others, and reveals a writer attuned to the infinite possibilities of human art and identity. "

Nana Nkweti (MFA, 2014) is the author of the story collection Walking on Cowrie Shells. An AKO Caine Prize finalist and alumna of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, her work has garnered fellowships from MacDowell, Kimbilio, Ucross, and Clarion West, among others. She has studied international law and trained and practiced as a nurse, and is now a professor of English at the University of Alabama.

From the committee:

" Nana Nkweti can do anything – realism, satire, avant-garde playfulness, essayistic exploration. What remains consistent is the vibrancy of her voice, which captures a borough’s worth of clamorous experience, and the immediate authority she establishes on the page. Nkweti’s astonishing ability to make visible the ebbs and flows of intimacy enriches her stories with lyrical yearning. There’s also a slyness here, an irrepressible humor that pushes against assumptions about what it means to be African, an immigrant, young, and defiant in a family or a country that expects silence and obedience. She is a writer whose horizons seem limitless. "