This year is the second year the Iceland Writers Retreat has offered the Alumni Award. This prestigious award is funded in its entirety by generous IWR alumni and friends. It gives its recipients full or partial funding to attend the next Retreat, which will take place April 5 to 9, 2017 in Reykjavik. The winners are chosen based on both merit and financial need, and submissions were reviewed by IWR alumni volunteers. We received almost 600 applications from around the world and the quality of submissions was extremely high.
The recipients are:
Victor Yang: Victor spends lots of time teaching, biking, and thinking about food when he is not parked in front of Microsoft Word at a coffee shop. He spends his days as a labor organizer at the janitors’ union in Boston. His job, as a writer and an organizer, is to listen to other people’s stories and ask that they be shared. His essays are forthcoming in The Rumpus and Tahoma Literary Review. He grew up in Canada, rural China, and Kentucky and is now based in Boston.
Peter Ngila is a Kenyan writer. He graduated from Mount Kenya University in August 2015, where he was studying journalism. His short fiction has appeared in magazines and journals in Kenya and beyond including Jalada Africa, Prachya Review, Brittle Paper, Lawino, Ebedi Review among others. Peter has attended Writivism Creative Writing workshops in Kenya and Tanzania, and taken part in The Writivism Mentoring Process. He also attended the 2016 Short Story Day Africa Migrations Flow Workshop in Nairobi. Peter has a number of manuscripts, including a short story collection, a novella and a novel (in progress). He will go to Nigeria in January 2017 for six weeks to complete work on a novel.
Nathan ‘NJ’ Ramsden (partial scholarship) lives in West Yorkshire, UK. He writes mostly short fiction based on mythology and folktale, though he has also published one novel (Nothing’s Oblong), and is currently working on a translation of the long medieval poem ‘Sir Gawain and the Green Knight’. Nathan taught English for several years before choosing to focus on writing and to set up a small press. In his spare time, he loves baking, bookbinding, and making music with synthesizers and an old jazz bass. Although he enjoys reading and translating Icelandic, this will be Nathan’s first trip to Iceland; he hopes to improve his spoken language as well as see some of the country and stock up on a few more books.
Akvile Buitvydaite (partial scholarship): After exploring many countries on her solitary travels, Akvile finally slowly settled down in Copenhagen. She grew up in a small town in Lithuania and the variety of places that she has visited has given her an opportunity to treasure the diversity of this world. She has been teaching for several years and at the moment is taking a degree in English and Cultural Studies. Writing has always played a role as a very intimate and personal expression of her solitude, whereas lately, she has become more explicit about it and thus received many encouraging responses. Slowly, she began to cultivate this passion and transform it into fiction. She wants her writings to tackle the questions of social justice and to evoke an emotional understanding of a human life.
We’ll be profiling all the recipients in more detail in the coming weeks.
The other finalists for the prize were (in alphabetical order):
Kirsten Barkved (Canada)
Brandon Breen (United States)
Tanvir Bush (United Kingdom)
Jenn Carson (Canada)
Emily Craven (Australia)
Julia L Guarch (United States)
Dela Gwala (South Africa)
Rachael King (New Zealand)
Katrina Jorene Maliamauv (Malaysia)
Regomoditswe Mamogale (South Africa)
Kim Parkhill (Canada)
Anastasia Pascoe (United States)
Arsalan Pirzada (Pakistan)
Marcie Rendon (United States)
Lena Rutkowski (Denmark)
Sally Ryhanen (Australia)
Nora Shychuk (United States)
Ryan Skaryd (United States)
Lucy Steeds (United Kingdom)
Lisa Sullivan (United States)
Ingeborg Swart (Netherlands)
Holly Truslove (United Kingdom)
Hannah van Didden (Australia)
Sophie Wellstood (United Kingdom)
Terry Anne Whitebeach (Australia)
Pierre Zahnd (France / United Kingdom)
An additional 52 people received “honorary mention”.