Announcing the 2021 Winners of the Larry Levis Post-Graduate Stipend

Friends of Writers is pleased to announce the 2021 winners of the Larry Levis Post-Graduate Stipend: 

Kellam Ayres (poetry ’10 ) for In the Cathedral of My Undoing

Corey Campbell (fiction ’12) for Everybody’s Good

Each winner receives $5000. 

Congratulations to Kellam and Corey, and thanks to everyone who submitted their work.

Finalists in poetry were Leah Nieboer (poetry ’18) for Loose Wheel; Aaron Strumwasser (fiction ’19) for The Mandolin; and Jen Ryan Onken (poetry ’20) for Medea at the Laundromat.

Finalists in fiction were Lynnette Curtis (fiction ’19) for Neon City; D.C. Lambert (fiction ’01) for Ceremony of Innocence; and Julie Benesh (fiction ’06) for Revelations.

Submission guidelines will be available and the amount of the 2022 stipend will be announced in late summer or early fall.


In response to her award, Kellam says:

I am honored to be the recipient of the Levis Stipend. Many thanks go to the terrific faculty members at Warren Wilson, as well as the Wallies I’ve known over the past decade, who have demonstrated the many ways to be a writer in the midst of busy lives. For me, writing poems while balancing a career and raising young children has not come naturally; I flailed for years, always thinking that the time for writing would just magically appear. (Reader, it did not.) But when graduate pals suggested “The Grind” as a way to structure my writing life post-Warren Wilson, it was transformative. And to know that, regardless of how we do our writing, through the highs and lows, there is an inspiring community of graduates finding their way back to their desks again and again. This speaks to the talent, work ethic, and good heartedness of the Warren Wilson community. Thank you to Friends of Writers for this generous award—for the boost of confidence it has given me to finish the manuscript, and for the funds to support this effort, especially during such a trying year.

About In the Cathedral of My Undoing poetry judge Cynthia Cruz says:

Beginning with the first poem, “Haunting,” the poet draws the reader immediately into the collection. “In our village,” they write, “the night sky flashes/with light,”…  Once pulled into the text, we encounter, with each line, with each poem, an unraveling, an undoing. And yet, simultaneously, with each poem, with each new experience of each new poem, the reader encounters the concrete, lived, world, each encounter yet one more affirmation of life: a couple fighting, Graceland, an old mill, Tuperware, beauty products, foxes, a garbage truck and a tenement. In succession, we move further down into a darkness littered with the beautiful and mysterious, which is to say: the objects of this world. 

In response to her award, Corey says:

I’m so grateful that my manuscript was chosen for the Larry Levis Prize in Fiction this year. Warren Wilson not only gave me the vocabulary of fiction, but it also encouraged a great sense of narrative possibility. I appreciate the reach, rigor, and support of this community, whether in Swannanoa, various far-flung AWPs, or even Houston, Texas where I was lucky to continue studying and workshopping with Warren Wilson faculty. The Levis Prize itself feels like the shot of adrenaline in “Pulp Fiction,” bringing my short story collection back to life. I’ve worked through various iterations of it for years and until recently, had set it aside to work on a Midwestern novel, something I never thought I’d do. I’m grateful that these stories connected with Levis Prize readers and judges, and I will use that encouragement to push forward on the last couple of stories that could make the collection whole. Thank you again for the support.

Fiction judge Susan Steinberg praises the stories in Everybody’s Good as being “vivid and vulnerable… remarkable writings [that] deeply explore what it is to be haunted:  by events, by people, and by the pain of needing to shape such hauntings into stories for others.