PRH, WNDB Announce 2020 Creative Writing Awards

We Need Diverse Books and Penguin Random House have partnered to announce the winners of the 2020 Creative Writing Awards, an annual literary contest to honor graduating public high school seniors from around the country.

Each of this year’s winners will receive a $10,000 college scholarship. This year’s competition will award $50,000 in prizes. The awards attracted more than 900 student submissions from 48 states.

WNDB executive director Nicole A. Johnson, said “WNDB has long believed that investing in diverse talent sets the stage for a more diverse industry. It is our hope that the winners and entrants choose writing or another role in publishing as a long-term career.”

An outgrowth of a Penguin Random House predecessor awards program aimed at local New York City High Schools, the PRH Creative Writing Awards is now a partnership between PRH and WNDB, a national advocate for diversity in children’s literature.

This year’s first place winners were awarded in four categories of Fiction & Drama, Poetry, Personal Essay/Memoir and Spoken Word, which are awarded under the auspices of the Maya Angelou Award. In recognition of the PRH’s previous New York City-focused literary awards program, a fifth $10,000 scholarship was awarded to a local NYC student.

The 2020 first-place winners and recipients of $10,000 scholarships are: 

  • Erika Whisnant for Loophole Abuse (Fiction & Drama), Burke Middle College, Morganton, NC 
  • Ivana Cortez for Planet: Elkhart, Indiana (Personal Essay), Galena Park High School, Galena Park, TX 
  • Jeffrey Liao for Museum of My Own History, Age Sixteen (Poetry), Livingston High School, Livingston, NJ 
  • Orlane Devesin for Evolution of the Black Woman (Maya Angelou Award for Spoken Word), Hiram High School, Hiram, GA 
  • Maya Williams for To My Catcaller (NYC Entrant Award), Edward R. Murrow High School, Brooklyn, NY 

The contest also awarded more than 60 honorable mentions and these honorees will receive a creativity kit that includes books and writing resources. PRH Creative Writing Awards winners will also take part in a week-long virtual professional development event organized by PRH that will begin on July 13. The online event will feature publishing professionals and one on one coaching from editors. In addition bestselling YA author Nic Stone (Dear Martin, Dear Justyce) will participate in the online event which culminate with an online awards ceremony and reading of the Creative Awards winner’s works. 

Penguin Random House executive v-p, director of corporate communications & social responsibility Claire von Schilling, said: "At Penguin Random House, student writers inspire us and our future, and we embrace our responsibility to discover, nurture, and support the next generation of artists. We are grateful to our partner We Need Diverse Books and are so thrilled to join with them to honor and empower these budding writers and their powerful diverse voices and stories.”



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