Windham-Campbell Literary Festival features readings, talks, and a dance party

2019 Windham Campbell Prize winners.
2019 Windham-Campbell Prize winners

The 2019 recipients of the Windham-Campbell Literature Prizes will come to Yale on Wednesday, Sept. 18 for a three-day literary festival where they will share their work, engage in conversation on a range of subjects, and celebrate reading and the written word with the local community.

The festival will feature a keynote address by poet and writer Eileen Myles as well as a dance party, a reading by the prize recipients, and a writers’ conversation on police violence.

The full schedule of talks, discussions, and readings is available on the Windham-Campbell Prizes website. All events are free and open to the public.

It is a writer’s prize, with a reader’s festival,” said poet Michael Kelleher, director of the Windham-Campbell Prizes. “We provide an open forum for some of the world’s best writers to share their work and engage in conversation with members of our community. The sense of camaraderie that develops between the prize recipients and festival-goers is always fun and inspiring.”

The 2019 prize recipients, announced on March 13, are: in fiction, Danielle McLaughlin (Ireland) and David Chariandy (Canada); in nonfiction, Raghu Karnad (India) and Rebecca Solnit (United States); in poetry, Ishion Hutchinson (Jamaica) and Kwame Dawes (Ghana/Jamaica/United States); in drama, Young Jean Lee (United States) and Patricia Cornelius (Australia).

The festival begins at 5 p.m. on Sept. 18 with a prize ceremony in the auditorium of the Yale University Art Gallery, 1111 Chapel St. (at York Street). Yale President Peter Salovey will confer the awards. Myles, an award-winning poet, novelist, arts journalist, and author of 20 books, will deliver a keynote lecture based on the theme “Why I Write.” Their keynote, written especially for the occasion, will be the basis for the next installment of the prize’s “Why I Write” series, published by Yale University Press (YUP).

The prize recipients will spend Thursday and Friday discussing their craft and exploring a diverse range of topics at events moderated by Yale faculty and curators, as well as book publishers and academics from other institutions.

The New Haven Free Public Library, continuing its partnership with the Windham-Campbell Prizes, will host two events: “On Becoming a Reader,” Thursday at noon, will feature a conversation between Kelleher and prize recipients Chariandy, Karnad, Lee, and Solnit about the books that inspired them to become writers, the ones that influenced their writing, and the ones that they are currently reading. On Friday at noon, Chariandy, Karnad, and Solnit will participate in “Approaching Police Violence: A Writers’ Conversation,” a panel discussion about state violence, how policing informs collective identity, and the possibility of re-framing policing as a public good, moderated by Tracey L. Meares, the Walton Hale Hamilton Professor and a founding director of the Justice Collaboratory at Yale Law School.

On Thursday night, the Afro-American Cultural Center will host a dance party where prize recipient Hutchinson and 2015 prize recipient Teju Cole will spin tunes from around the world. In addition to dancing, there will be food and drink catered by New Haven’s Bear's Smokehouse BBQ.

The prize recipients will close the festival by sharing selections from their work at a reading on Friday at 7:30 p.m. in the Yale Art Gallery’s auditorium. Between the talks and readings, prize recipients will visit New Haven’s Cooperative Arts & Humanities High School for a panel discussion and writing workshop. 

For a complete calendar of events, visit the Windham-Campbell Prize’s website.

The Windham-Campbell Prizes were established in 2013 by novelist and memoirist Donald Windham in memory of his partner of 40 years, Sandy M. Campbell, to call attention to literary achievement and provide writers working in English with the opportunity to focus on their work independent of financial concerns. Recipients receive $165,000. The prizes are administered by the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, which houses the Donald Windham and Sandy Campbell Papers.

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Media Contact

Mike Cummings: michael.cummings@yale.edu, 203-432-9548