FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Penguin Random House and We Need Diverse Books Announce 2019 Creative Writing Awards Winners
Penguin Random House to provide $50,000 in scholarship awards to
five unique, diverse literary voices of high school seniors from across the country.
July 1, 2019
New York, NY — The winners of the 2019 Penguin Random House Creative Writing Awards were announced today by its namesake, the world’s largest trade publisher, and its awards partner, We Need Diverse Books (WNDB), a national grassroots organization that advocates for diversity in children’s literature. Now in its twenty-sixth year, the competition for the first time has been expanded beyond greater New York to become a nationwide search, and to award scholarships and other resources that will recognize and encourage the next generation of talented writers. For 2019, five first-place $10,000 prizes were awarded in the respective categories of Fiction & Drama, Poetry, Personal Essay/Memoir, and Spoken Word under the Maya Angelou Award. In recognition of the Creative Writing Awards previously being focused on New York City where Penguin Random House is headquartered, the competition also awarded an additional first-place prize to the top entrant from the NYC area. The 2019 winners are:
- Samantha Kirschman for blood moon (Fiction & Drama), Kenston High School, Chagrin Falls, OH
- Katherine Sanchez for Red-White-and-Brown Skin (Poetry), Stuyvesant High School, New York, NY
- Siobhan Cohen for American Jew (Personal Essay), Hunter College High School, New York, NY
- Kiora Brooks for The Misinterpretation of Dark Skin (Maya Angelou Award for Spoken Word), Topeka West High School, Topeka, KS
- Nora Carrier for Stories My Mother Tells Me (New York City Entrant Award), Edward R. Murrow High School, Brooklyn, NY
Also, more than 50 honorable mentions were awarded to outstanding entries. These honorees will receive a “Creativity Kit”, which includes books and other writing resources.
Every submission to the competition has been given individual consideration through a multi-level selection process. Judges from We Need Diverse Books include school librarians, authors, teachers, and poets. For Penguin Random House, the 2019 judges are: Elliot Figman, Executive Director, Poets & Writers; Jo Umans, Executive Director, Behind the Book; Haley Davis, Manager, Sales, Penguin Random House; and Arianne Lewin, Executive Editor, Penguin Young Readers.
Claire von Schilling, Penguin Random House EVP & Director of Corporate Communications and Social Responsibility, said: “The Creative Writing Awards have always been our signature program to identify, recognize, and celebrate emerging writers. We look forward to welcoming the five winners to our New York offices and to presenting them with their scholarships. And we thank We Need Diverse Books for helping us expand our competition search to talent nationwide to truly help develop a community of young writers and to promote diverse voices and stories from across the country.”
More than 600 high school seniors entered the competition this year, which was open to graduating seniors from public high schools nationwide. Students from more than 30 states and 250 high schools applied, representing all regions of the United States. “By widening the field of applicants, we were able to expand this scholarship opportunity to a greater array of high school seniors,” shared Nicole A. Johnson, Executive Director of We Need Diverse Books. “It is by allowing greater access to these awards that we can begin to make progress and increase the number of diverse voices in publishing.”
“Thanks to the 2019 Creative Writing Awards, five new voices will enter college this fall with a $10,000 scholarship to pursue their dreams,” Johnson said.
The winners are invited to attend a professional-development day at Penguin Random House in New York. The program will give them the opportunity to meet publishing executives and Creating Writing Awards Alumni, gain insights into publishing, and to receive one-on-one mentoring with editors. The day will conclude with an awards ceremony and reading of the winners’ work.
For more information, please contact:
- Elissa Petruzzi at email@example.com, or visit the WNDB website at www.wndb.local.
- Christine Stotz at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit PRH’s Social Responsibility website at https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/about-us/social-responsibility/
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About We Need Diverse Books. We Need Diverse Books is a grassroots organization of children’s book lovers that advocates essential changes in the publishing industry to produce and promote literature that reflects and honors the lives of all young people. It is our mission to put more books featuring diverse characters in the hands of all children. You can learn more about our programs at www.wndb.local.
About Penguin Random House. Penguin Random House, the world’s largest trade book publisher, is dedicated to its mission of nourishing a universal passion for reading by connecting authors and their writing with readers everywhere. The company, which employs more than 10,000 people globally, was formed on July 1, 2013, by Bertelsmann and Pearson, who own 75 percent and 25 percent, respectively. With nearly 275 independent imprints and brands on six continents, Penguin Random House comprises adult and children’s fiction and nonfiction print and digital English- and Spanish-language trade book publishing businesses in more than 20 countries worldwide. With over 15,000 new titles and more than 600 million print, audio and eBooks sold annually, Penguin Random House’s publishing lists include more than 80 Nobel Prize laureates and hundreds of the world’s most widely read authors.
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