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The Bard Fiction Prize committee writes: “The nine stories in Clare Beams’ debut collection of fiction, We Show What We Have Learned, range from factual, historical settings and characters to eerily fantastical ones, displaying a startling depth and an epic scale of imagination. While the characters, and the situations they find themselves in, are sometimes surreal, their psychologies are always absolutely real—fully, compassionately drawn. Every one of these stories has a world and a lifetime behind it, and every one is a compelling, disquieting, and immensely pleasurable journey, reverie, and dream for its reader. Clare Beams is a subtle, quiet master of short fiction, who writes in beautiful and exquisitely crafted prose.”
“I am so much more grateful to Bard and to the Bard Fiction Prize committee than I can possibly say for this recognition of my work and for this gift—one of the best gifts anyone could give me, as a writer who’s also a parent of young children—of time. To join this list of winners, so many who are heroes and heroines of mine, is an honor, and to join the inspiring Bard community is a thrill. I can’t wait to meet the students and faculty and work on my third book, a new novel, in their midst,” says Beams.
Clare Beams is the author of the story collection We Show What We Have Learned, which was a Kirkus Best Debut of 2016 and a finalist for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize, the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Fiction Award, and the Shirley Jackson Award. Her first novel, The Illness Lesson, will be published by Doubleday in February of 2020. Her fiction appears in One Story, n+1, Ecotone, The Common, Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading, The Best American Nonrequired Reading, and elsewhere, and she has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and the Sustainable Arts Foundation. She lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and two daughters, and has taught creative writing at Carnegie Mellon University and St. Vincent College.
The creation of the Bard Fiction Prize, presented each October since 2001, continues Bard’s long-standing position as a center for creative, groundbreaking literary work by both faculty and students. From Saul Bellow, William Gaddis, Mary McCarthy, and Ralph Ellison to John Ashbery, Philip Roth, William Weaver, and Chinua Achebe, Bard’s literature faculty, past and present, represents some of the most important writers of our time. The prize is intended to encourage and support young writers of fiction, and provide them with an opportunity to work in a fertile intellectual environment. Last year’s Bard Fiction Prize was awarded to Greg Jackson for his short story collection Prodigals (Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2016).
The MacArthur Fellowship is a no-strings-attached award to extraordinarily talented and creative individuals as an investment in their potential. There are three criteria for selection of Fellows: exceptional creativity, promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishments, and potential for the Fellowship to facilitate subsequent creative work. Recipients may be writers, scientists, artists, social scientists, humanists, teachers, entrepreneurs, or those in other fields, with or without institutional affiliations. Fellows may use their award to advance their expertise, engage in bold new work, or, if they wish, to change fields or alter the direction of their careers. Although nominees are reviewed for their achievements, the Fellowship is not a lifetime achievement award, but rather an investment in a person’s originality, insight, and potential. Indeed, the purpose of the Fellowship is to enable recipients to exercise their own creative instincts for the benefit of human society. MacArthur Fellows receive $625,000 stipends that are bestowed with no conditions; recipients may use the money as they see fit. Eleven Bard faculty members have previously been honored with a MacArthur Fellowship.
Jeffrey Gibson grew up in major urban centers in the United States, Germany, Korea, and England. He is a Choctaw-Cherokee artist who incorporates his heritage into his multi-disciplinary work, which includes abstract sculptures, paintings, and prints. Gibson earned his Master of Arts in painting at the Royal College of Art, London, in 1998 and his Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1995. Gibson has work in the permanent collections of the Denver Art Museum, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian at the Smithsonian Institution, National Gallery of Canada, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, and more. Recent solo exhibitions include Jeffrey Gibson: Like a Hammer at the Seattle Art Museum in Washington and Madison Museum of Art in Wisconsin and Jeffrey Gibson: This is the Day at Blanton Museum of Art in Austin, Texas. Gibson is a past TED Foundation Fellow, and a Joan Mitchell Grant recipient. He lives and works in New York.
Valeria Luiselli is an award-winning writer of fiction and nonfiction whose books are forthcoming and/or published in more than 20 languages. She is the author of the novels Lost Children Archive (2019); The Story of My Teeth (2015), named Best Book in Fiction by the Los Angeles Times, one of the best books of the year by the New York Times, and a National Book Critics Circle finalist; and Faces in the Crowd (2014), for which she received a National Book Foundation “5 under 35” prize, among other honors. Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in 40 Questions, a nonfiction work published in 2017, won the American Book Award and was a National Book Critics Circle and Kirkus Prize finalist. Other nonfiction publications include “Maps of Harlem,” in Where You Are, and Sidewalks, a collection of essays that was named one of the 10 best books of 2014 by New York. Recent journal, newspaper, and radio work has appeared in the New York Times (“The Littlest Don Quixotes versus the World”), Guardian (“Frida Kahlo and the Birth of Fridolatry”), Outlook Interview Series, BBC World Services (“Undocumented Central American Minors”), Harper’s Trump special (“Terrorist and Alien”), and NPR’s This American Life (“The Questionnaire”), among others. Honors also include an Art for Justice Fellowship (2018–19) and residencies at Under the Volcano, USA-Mexico; Poets House, New York City; and Castello di Fosdinovo, Italy. She previously taught at Hofstra University, City College, the New York University MFA Writing Program in Paris, and Columbia University’s MFA Writing Program. She founded the Teenage Immigrant Integration Association at Hofstra in 2015, a program that offers continuous support to immigrant and refugee teens through one-on-one English classes, soccer games, and civil rights education. She is a member of PEN America and the Association of Writers and Writing Programs. She was born in Mexico City and currently lives in New York City.
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