Amazon Literary Partnership Expands Grantee List to 80 This Year

In News by Porter Anderson1 Comment

‘We believe in the power of literature and its ability to change lives, minds, and hearts,’ says Al Woodworth, who directs the 12-year-old Amazon Literary Partnership.

In Union Square, New York City. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Saloni Agarwal

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

Supporting Organizations ‘Critical to Their Communities’
As Publishing Perspectives readers know, the Amazon Literary Partnership program funds nonprofit literary organizations in the United States.

As the program’s director, Al Woodworth, tells us, “We’re focused on funding organizations that play a vital role in the communities that they serve—whether that’s emerging writers or established ones.

“We’re looking for organizations and/or programs that are focused on diversity; that display energy, passion, reach, and a willingness to innovate; and have an enthusiastic membership and/or community.”

Woodworth, who is also a senior editor for the Amazon Books Editorial Team, points out that while the total outlay this year is again “more than US$1 million,” the number of grants allocated has increased to 80 over last year’s 66. Because the company doesn’t specify the total amount distributed, it’s impossible to know how much the allocation may have increased, if any, to handle grants to 14 newly designated companies.

“The new grant recipients for 2021,” Woodworth says, “represent a range of organizations—from those concentrated on nurturing young voices to presses publishing indigenous voices, to writers’ residencies with programming focused on the voices of trans writers of color. The new 2021 grantees represent more than 10 states and they are:

  • Bay Area Book Festival
  • Center for Black Literature
  • Chatos Inhumanos
  • CityLit Project
  • Damascus Outreach Association
  • Decatur Book Festival
  • DSTL Arts
  • Empowering Latino Futures
  • Heyday
  • Litquake Foundation
  • Roots. Wounds. Words. Inc.
  • Shout Mouse Press
  • Society of the Muse of the Southwest (SOMOS)
  • The American Literary Translators Association
  • The Cabin
  • The Tenth Academy
  • The Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow
  • Torrey House Press
  • Turtle Point Press

In addition, Woodworth points out, “dozens more will receive grants from the Poetry Fund (led by the Academy of American Poets) and the Literary Magazine Fund (led by Community of Literary Magazines and Presses),” with those two larger organization regranting smaller ones in the areas of poetry and literary magazines.

“Since 2009,” Woodworth says, “we’ve provided financial support to organizations that support writers and we’re excited to be able to build on that foundation to offer more grants this year.”

Effects of the Pandemic

Woodworth says that in terms of the impact of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, “It’s been remarkable to see so many organizations pivot to online events, workshops, award ceremonies, etc., and how so many organizations have met the moment.  It’s humbling and inspiring.

Al Woodworth

“We recognize that for many organizations the pandemic made an impact on their programs and plans, so we incorporated that into our decision making. We believe in the importance of literary organizations—we know how vital they are, and in our grant-making we’ve tried to support those that are critical to their communities.”

Of course, while readily agreeing with Woodworth on her program’s belief in the importance of literary organizations, many publishing professionals might wish those organizations had done a little less pivoting “to online events, workshops, award ceremonies, etc.,” as more and more complaints are heard in the industry about mind-numbingly frequent requests to register for this and that online event and the peculiar impression on the part of many event programmers that book business pros can spend whole hours, even whole days, staring at digital events in their offices and homes.

But to a large degree, these organizations are public-facing–community facing–in their programming. In that arena, the use of digital programming has been a welcome and useful way to maintain community relationships, audience and consumer bases, and relevance.

“People say it takes a village to raise a child. It also takes a village—a community filled with individuals and organizations—to raise a writer.”Al Woodworth, Amazon Literary Partnership

“With the aim of empowering writers, helping them create, publish, learn, teach, experiment, and thrive,”  Woodworth says, “Amazon Literary Partnership seeks to help writers tell their stories and find readers. By funding organizations working to lift up the voices of underrepresented writers, we hope to champion a variety of perspectives on the world we live in now.

“With our grant funding,” she says, “we hope to offer funding to organizations that support writers at all stages of their careers, and support takes different forms.

“Some organizations are focused on workshops, others are residency programs aimed at giving writers the time and space to concentrate on their work, others are event-driven organizations so writers can share their work, some focus on mentorship while others are publishers.

“People say it takes a village to raise a child. It also takes a village—a community filled with individuals and organizations—to raise a writer. All of these organizations do incredible work to support their writers and we are inspired and humbled to be able to provide them grant funding.”

And in our exchange with Woodworth, we point out the presence of the Asian American Writers Workshop, having recently written about the Gold House Book Club’s effort in programming for the broadest Asian and Pacific Islander population in diaspora.

“We believe in the power of literature and its ability to change lives, minds, and hearts,” Woodworth says. “We’ve been a proud supporter of the Asian American Writers Workshop for years and are excited to continue our support this year along with other organizations like Kundiman, Lambda Literary, Hurston/Wright Foundation, the Africa Center, Black Mountain Institute’s City of Asylum, which we’ve supported over the years.

“This year has shone a light on the grave inequities in publishing and the support mechanisms for Black, Asian, Indigenous, Latinx, neurodiverse, gender-expansive writers who are working all across our country.

“We know how important literary organizations are to writers—whether as places to write, to get feedback, to share their work or publish their work—and we want to fund organizations and programs that are creating a safe, supportive, and productive space for writers whose voices are not always heard.

“This year, we continued to focus on organizations and programs that were aimed at championing diverse voices.”

Amazon Literary Partnership Grants, 2021
  • 826 Valencia (CA)
  • 826DC (DC)
  • 826NYC (NY)
  • A Public Space Literary Projects, Inc (NY)
  • Academy of American Poets (NY)
  • Archipelago Books (NY)
  • Art Omi: Writers (NY)
  • Asian American Writers’ Workshop (NY)
  • ASJA Writers Emergency Assistance Fund (NY)
  • Aspen Words (CO)
  • Association of Writers & Writing Programs (MD)
  • Bay Area Book Festival (CA)
  • Beverly Rogers, Carol C. Harter Black Mountain Institute (NV)
  • Brooklyn Book Festival (NY)
  • Center for Black Literature (NY)
  • Center for the Art of Translation (CA)
  • Centrum (WA)
  • ChatosInhumanos (NY)
  • Chicago Humanities Festival (IL)
  • CityLit Project (MD)
  • Clarion West (WA)
  • Coffee House Press (MN)
  • Community of Literary Magazines and Presses (NY)
  • Community Word Project (NY)
  • Creative Writing Program, University of Washington (WA)
  • Damascus Outreach Association (NC)
  • Decatur Book Festival (GA)
  • Deep Vellum Publishing (TX)
  • DSTL Arts (CA)
  • Empowering Latino Futures (CA)
  • Girls Write Now (NY)
  • Graywolf Press (MN)
  • Hedgebrook (WA)
  • Heyday (CA)
  • House of SpeakEasy (NY)
  • Hub City Press (SC)
  • Hugo House (WA)
  • Humanities Washington (WA)
  • Indiana Writers Center (IN)
  • Kundiman (NY)
  • Lambda Literary (NY)
  • Lighthouse Writers Workshop (CO)
  • LitNet (NY)
  • Litquake Foundation (CA)
  • The Loft Literary Center (MN)
  • MacDowell (NH)
  • Milkweed Editions (MN)
  • Narrative 4 (NY)
  • National Book Foundation (NY)
  • National Novel Writing Month (CA)
  • PEN America (NY)
  • Poets & Writers, Inc. (NY)
  • Restless Books (NY)
  • Roots. Wounds. Words. (NY)
  • Seattle Arts & Lectures (WA)
  • Seattle City of Literature (WA)
  • Shout Mouse Press (DC)
  • Society of the Muse of the Southwest (SOMOS) (NM)
  • The American Literary Translators Association (AZ)
  • The Cabin (ID)
  • The Corporation of Yaddo (NY)
  • The Feminist Press (NY)
  • The Inner Loop (DC)
  • The Center for Fiction (NY)
  • The Moth (NY)
  • The Africa Center (NY)
  • The Telling Room (ME)
  • The Tenth Academy (NY)
  • The Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow (AR)
  • Torrey House Press (UT)
  • Town Hall Seattle (WA)
  • Transit Books (CA)
  • Turtle Point Press (NY)
  • Ucross Foundation (WY)
  • Washington Center for the Book (WA)
  • Words Without Borders (NY)
  • WriteGirl (CA)
  • Writers in the Schools (TX)
  • WRITERS ROOM (PA)
  • Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation (DC)

More on the program is here.


More from Publishing Perspectives on Amazon is here, and on authors is here.

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here

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 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. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.

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