Monday, April 25, 2022

Writers’ Workshop faculty member and alumnus, novelist Jamel Brinkley (MFA 2015) and Emory University faculty member and Workshop alumnus, poet Robyn Schiff (MFA 1999) have been awarded 2022-2023 Rome Prizes in Literature. Schiff will receive the Joseph Brodsky Rome Prize for Literature, a gift of the Drue Heinz Trust. 

Robyn Schiff and Jamel Brinkley, Rome Prizes in Literature
Robyn Schiff and Jamel Brinkley, Rome Prizes in Literature

On April 25, the American Academy in Rome (AAR) announced the winners of the 2022-2023 Rome Prize and Italian Fellowships. These highly competitive fellowships support advanced independent work and research in the arts and humanities.

This year, 33 Rome Prizes were awarded to 37 artists and scholars (four prizes are collaborations), who will receive a stipend, workspace, and room and board at the Academy’s eleven-acre campus on the Janiculum Hill in Rome, starting in September 2022. Rome Prize and Italian Fellowship winners are presented at the annual Arthur and Janet C. Ross Rome Prize Ceremony in the Great Hall at Cooper Union in New York.

Rome Prize winners are selected annually by independent juries of distinguished artists and scholars through a national competition. The eleven disciplines supported by the Academy are: ancient studies, architecture, design, historic preservation and conservation, landscape architecture, literature, medieval studies, modern Italian studies, music composition, Renaissance and early modern studies, and visual arts. The selected candidates were ratified by the Board of Trustees of the American Academy in Rome.

Jamel Brinkley | Rome Prize in Literature

Project name: Another Life: A Novel

Jamel Brinkley will work on completing a first draft of Another Life, a story about family, grief, and becoming. Beginning in 1990s New York City, it centers one family, the Carters, as they weather three life-altering losses. As the novel opens, a sudden turn of events fractures the family, leaving Jade, the eldest daughter, and Richard, the only son, most vulnerable.

"I'm envisioning Another Life as a book structured in three parts, each of which introduces another loss, a new absence. The first is the flight of the family's matriarch, the second is a murder due to police violence, the third is the family being dispossessed of their home. Another Life seeks to explore what seems to be a crucial question of African American history: how do people endure, survive – and even thrive, innovate, create, and become transformative – in the face of overwhelming pain and loss?"

Brinkley Photo credit | Arash Saedinia

Robyn Schiff | Joseph Brodsky Rome Prize, a gift of the Drue Heinz Trust

Project name: Information Desk: An Epic

Robyn Schiff will work on An Epic, a two-volume poem that draws on her experience formerly fielding questions at the information desk at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she was a staff member two decades ago. Both a work of art history and a coming-of-age story set within a museum, the poem is as concerned with the violent forces of power and world history that drive the museum’s encyclopedic collecting as it is with the making and meanings of art.

"Meandering through the physical building and time traveling through the art it stores, Information Desk: An Epic contemplates the political complexities of making, collecting, possessing, and representing, while it explores the spiritual meanings wrought by aesthetics in a narrative capacious and capricious enough to also relate the private dramas behind that central desk, in the many exhibition halls, and employee-only corners, closets, private offices, and dining rooms."

Past winners of the Rome Prize have included:

  • Bennett Sims (MFA 2012) awarded the 2018-2019 Joseph Brodsky Rome Prize for Literature, a gift of the Drue Heinz Trust
  • T. Geronimo Johnson (MFA 2008), awarded the 2017-2018 John Guare Writer’s Fund Rome Prize for Literature, a gift of Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman
  • Matthew Neill Null (MFA 2009), awarded the 2016-2017 Joseph Brodsky Rome Prize for Literature, a gift of the Drue Heinz Trust/American Academy of Arts and Letters