An Inclusive Community

We are committed to increasing access to our program for students from diverse backgrounds, offering scholarships to PEN’s Emerging Writers Fellows and Cave Canem poets and increasing funding options for the emerging voices we want to support and read, and to building an inclusive community through sustained dialogue and practice.

The Diversity & Inclusion Initiative


Chaired by longtime faculty member, Major Jackson, the Initiative is a group-led effort comprised of students and faculty that seeks to expand our reading lists within and beyond the Western canon and diversify the residency experience.  

Bennington's One Book Initiative

between the world and me

The Bennington community comes together to read work selected by the Diversity & Inclusion Initiative. In June 2016, a panel of faculty and students led a discussion of Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me, and James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, to deepen our understanding of the personal and historical background informing both works, the authors’ use of language, and the intellectual and social work of their books.

The Bennington World Lit Café


MFA students and faculty gather once a residency at the World Lit Cafe to read works from global voices and underrepresented authors, and to discuss their intellectual and cultural footprint in the world of letters and beyond. The Committee also recommends these books to students as they compile reading lists with their faculty members to ensure that students at Bennington read widely.



gregory pardlo

Gregory Pardlo is the author of Totem (2007), winner of the APR/Honickman First Book Prize; and Digest (2014), winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. The Pulitzer judges cited Pardlo’s “clear-voiced poems that bring readers the news from 21st Century America, rich with thought, ideas and histories public and private.”

peter balakian

Peter Balakian is the author of the memoir Black Dog of Fate, winner of the PEN/Albrand Prize for memoir and a New York Times Notable Book and The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America’s Response.

asali solomon

Asali Solomon is an American professor, author, and novelist. Solomon has written two books. Her first, Get Down, was a collection of short stories published in 2008. She published her second book, a novel titled Disgruntled, in 2015.

saeed jones

Saeed Jones' poems engage themes of intimacy, race and power. He has received a Pushcart Prize and has also been awarded fellowships from Cave Canem and Queer/Art/Mentorship. He is the literary editor for BuzzFeed and lives in New York City.

alexander chee

Alexander Chee is an American fiction writer, poet, journalist and reviewer and author of Queen of the Night. Born in Rhode Island, he spent his childhood in South Korea, Kauai, Truk, Guam and Maine.

anais duplan

Anaïs Duplan '16 is a curator and poet. She is concerned with the intersections of Internet-based discourse, Black signification, and notions of both the Afrofuture and the Anthropocene.