Amazon Literary Partnership Announces More than $1 Million in 2019 Grants

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

Reiterating its emphasis on voices underrepresented in publishing, the Amazon Literary Partnership reaches its 10th year and a total of more than $12 million in grants.

Image – iStockphoto: Rawpixel

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Emphases: Writers, and Underrepresented Voices
As Publishing Perspectives readers will recall, the cycle for this year’s Amazon Literary Partnership program saw a deadline in mid-January for applications. This is the philanthropic program founded in 2009 that focuses on assisting writers through organizations and services that support them in a wide array of ways.

The second key component of the program is a stated interest in underrepresented voices, making the program a leader in the American industry for diversity concerns and the promotion of an inclusive business and art.

In our December interview with author Neal Thompson, the program’s manager who succeeded Jon Fine several years ago in the role, Thompson told us, “We’re very intentionally trying to uplift and amplify the voices of overlooked and marginalized writers. You’ll see in our list a lot of groups we support, a lot of them helping writers of color, female writers, gay and lesbian writers.

“We’ve deliberately targeted organizations whose missions are to help underrepresented voices.”

The awards announced today (May 20) provide more than US$1 million in funding to 66 American nonprofit entities dedicated to serving writers, bringing the total of funding provided over the 10-year life of the program to more than $12 million for more than 150 literary organizations.

The program also has announced two special grants this year of $120,000, one to the Academy of American Poets and the other to the Community of Literary Presses and Magazines more commonly known in the industry as CLMP. The intent of the new grants is to generate two new funds, one for poetry and one for literary magazines, supporting more than a dozen organizations, which are to be announced by the poets’ and magazines’ groups.

In a separate statement, Mary Gannon, the executive director of CLMP has announced these recipients of the new Literary Magazine Fund’s support, provided by the Amazon Literary Partnership:

  • A Public Space (New York)
  • Belt Magazine (Ohio)
  • Electric Literature (New York)
  • Narrative Magazine (California)
  • One Story (New York)
  • Ploughshares (Massachusetts)
  • Portland Review (Oregon)
  • Scalawag (North Carolina)
  • Scoundrel Time (Maryland)
  • Slice Literary, Inc. (New York)
  • Solstice: A Magazine of Diverse Voices (Massachusetts)
  • The Common (Massachusetts)
  • The Literary Review (New Jersey)
  • Oxford American (Arkansas)
  • ZYZZYVA (California)

And the Academy of American Poets has brought together as grantmaking panel in its process to choose the following recpients for its fist year of subventions thanks to its $120,000 award from the Amazon Literary Partnership. Those recipients are:

  • Alice James Books
  • BOA Editions, Ltd.
  • Cave Canem
  • Copper Canyon Press
  • Furious Flower Poetry Center
  • National Poetry Series
  • Nightboat Books
  • Nuyorican Poets Cafe
  • Poetry Society of America
  • Poets House
  • Undocupoets
  • University of Arizona / CantoMundo
  • White Pine Press
‘The World We Live in Now’
“By funding organizations working to uplift the voices of underrepresented writers, we hope to champion the writers of the world we live in now.”Neal Thompson, Amazon Literary Partnership

In its media messaging with today’s announcement, Seattle has bulleted out a series of points about the program that help quantify its work.

  • According to a survey of last year’s grant recipients, in the last five years, organizations supported by the Amazon Literary Partnership have assisted more than 100,000 writers annually, publishing an estimated 3,200 stories and more than 500 books, and reaching more than 5 million readers
  • Writers supported by Amazon Literary Partnership grant recipients have won National Book Awards, National Book Critics Circle Awards, MacArthur “Genius” Grants, National Magazine Awards, and other accolades
  • The Amazon Literary Partnership’s support for the Academy of American Poets’ “Poem A Day” series led to the publication of poems by more than 300 poets from a diversity of backgrounds, reaching 500,000 readers daily via email and online at Poets.org
  • The program’s support for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) helped bring in-school and after-school writing classes to 10,000 schools, reaching 100,000 kids across the United States

One of the organizations that has thrived in part thanks to the Amazon program’s support is Words Without Borders and its magazine of the same name, familiar to Publishing Perspectives readers from our monthly coverage of its work in curating and promoting contemporary writings in translation from many parts of the world.

Karen Phillips

In a statement of appreciation from Words Without Borders’ executive director Karen Phillips, she’s quoted, saying, “This grant will help us to provide an English-language platform for vital and diverse writers from Oman, the Philippines, Cape Verde, Algeriaand elsewhere, engaging readers in a global literary conversation.”

And on the whole, it’s striking to see how clearly the program’s intent in its choices of recipients matches that of such organizations as the International Publishers Association with its emphasis on the freedom to publish, on educational advantages for the writers and readers without whom publishing cannot operate, and on the worldwide interest today in expanding the book business to the widest possible array of socio-economically diverse voices.

Even by comparison to the work of such visual storytelling leaders as Netflix and Amazon Studios, the publishing industry is, on the whole, behind in bringing into many of its companies the background experiences and ethnically and racially diverse world in which literature actually operates.

While many in the business understand this and are working to change it, the Amazon Literary Partnership has been in the vanguard on this factor and its grant recipient selections can mean that the pool of talent that publishing needs is better equipped to enter the business and enrich it with sustained, high-quality content.

Neal Thompson. Image: Beowulf Sheehan

In his statement with today’s announcements, Thompson says, “By funding organizations working to uplift the voices of underrepresented writers, we hope to champion the writers of the world we live in now.”

It’s hard to think of a more pertinent parallel to the needs of the business itself. And, ironically, it’s hard to think of a competitive corporate benefactor that might be less appreciated by some in the business than Amazon.

In the next 10 years of the Amazon Literary Partnership’s operation, the sheer level of competition for storytelling primacy in a teeming marketplace may help move us past some of today’s commercial animosity. After all, there’s little question that the development of the storyteller is a fundamental mission on which the rest of the business stands or falls.

If you’re new to the Amazon’s grants program, reading its list of 2019 recipients may be helped by knowing how they’re defined by the company: “Grant recipients include nonprofit writing centers, residencies, fellowships, after-school classes, literary magazines, national organizations supporting storytelling and free speech, and internationally acclaimed publishers of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.”

2019 Amazon Literary Partnership Grant Recipients
826 Valencia (California)
826 NYC (New York)
Archipelago Books (New York)
Artist Trust (Washington)
Asian American Writers Workshop (New York)
Aspen Words (Colorado)
AWP (Association of Writers and Writing Programs) (Maryland)
Black Mountain Institute (Nevada)
Brooklyn Book Festival (New York)
Center for Black Literature (New York)
Chicago Humanities Festival (Ilinois)
Clarion West (Washington)
Coffee House Press (Minnesota)
Community Word Project (New York)
Girls Write Now (New York)
Graywolf Press (Minnesota)
GrubStreet (Massachusetts)
Hedgebrook (Washington)
House of SpeakEasy Foundation (New York)
Hub City Writers Project (South Carolina)
Hugo House (Washington)
Humanities Washington (Washington)
Indiana Writers Center (Indiana)
Inprint (Texas)
Jack Jones Literary Arts (California)
KCRW Foundation (California)
Kenyon Review (Ohio)
Kundiman (New York)
Lambda Literary Foundation (California)
Lighthouse Writers Workshop (Colorado)
Loft Literary Center (Minnesota)
Log Cabin Literary Center (Idaho)
Milkweed Editions (Minnesota)
Narrative 4 (New York)
National Book Foundation (New York)
National Novel Writing Month (California)
Open Letter Books (Best Translated Book Award) (New York)
Path with Art (Washington)
Poets & Writers (New York)
Port Townsend Writers Conference (Centrum) (Washington)
Red Hen Press (California)
Restless Books (New York)
Seattle Arts & Lectures (Washington)
Seattle City of Literature (Washington)
Slice Literary Writers Conference (New York)
Small Press Distribution (California)
The Center for Fiction (New York)
The Feminist Press (New York)
The Inner Loop (District of Columbia)
The MacDowell Colony (New York)
The Moth (New York)
The Seattle Public Library Foundation (Washington)
The Telling Room (Maine)
The Writer’s Block (Nevada)
Town Hall Seattle (Washington)
Transit Books (California)
Ucross Foundation (Wyoming)
University of Washington Creative Writing Program (Washington)
Washington Center for the Book (Washington)
Washington State Historical Society (Washington)
Words Without Borders (New York)
WriteGirl (California)
Writers in the Schools (Texas)
Yaddo (New York)
Young Writers Project (Vermont)
Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation (District of Columbia)

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About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's 2019 International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for trade and indie authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson also has worked as a senior producer, editor, and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA, and as an arts critic (National Critics Institute) with The Village Voice and Dallas Times Herald.