The 10 winners of the 36th Whiting Awards, each of which comes with a $50,000 prize, were announced on April 14 in a virtual ceremony. The event featured a keynote by former U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith, who won a Whiting in 2005, and readings by each of the winners.

This year's winners are:

  • Joshua Bennett, for poetry and nonfiction
  • Jordan E. Cooper, for drama
  • Steven Dunn, for fiction
  • Tope Folarin, for fiction
  • Donnetta Lavinia Grays, for drama
  • Marwa Helal, for poetry
  • Sarah Stewart Johnson, for nonfiction
  • Sylvia Khoury, for drama
  • Ladan Osman, for poetry
  • Xandria Phillips, for poetry

“In a year of singular difficulty, these writers accessed joy, honoring past voices in their own family histories, and in the culture,” Courtney Hodell, director of literary programs, said in a statement. “To a striking degree, they move fluidly across restrictive genre borderlines to create a vibrant picture of new writing in this country.”

The Whiting Awards are given annually to writers of drama, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. They are designed, according to the Whiting Foundation, "to recognize excellence and promise in a spectrum of emerging talent, giving most winners their first chance to devote themselves full-time to their own writing, or to take bold new risks in their work."