Awards and Honors, Alumni News

A Guggenheim for Gerstler

Poet and Bennington Writing Seminars alum Amy Gerstler MFA '00 has been awarded a prestigious 2018 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship.

Amy Gerstler

Awards were given this year to a diverse group of 173 Fellows (including two joint Fellowships) comprising scholars, artists, and scientists. Appointed on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise, the successful candidates were chosen from a group of almost 3,000 applicants in the Foundation’s 94th competition.

Gerstler, a Los Angeles native, has been described by the Los Angeles Times as “one of the best poets in the nation.” Her 2009 book Dearest Creature was named one of the notable books of the year by The New York Times, and her books of poetry include Medicine—a finalist for the Phi Beta Kappa Poetry Award—and Bitter Angel (1990), which won the 1991 National Book Critics Circle Award. She is a graduate of Pitzer College and holds an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars, where she also taught.

“Amy Gerstler is one of our country’s most slyly innovative and wildly imaginative poets, and her recognition by the Guggenheim Foundation is confirmation of what we have long known at Bennington: that she is a national treasure,” Mark Wunderlich, director of the Bennington Writing Seminars, said. “As both a graduate of the Writing Seminars and a former faculty member, Amy has left her mark on our students and contributed over many years to the intellectual and artistic life of our program. We congratulate her for this well-deserved award.”

The great variety of backgrounds, fields of study, and accomplishments of Guggenheim Fellows is one of the unique characteristics of the Fellowship program. In all, 49 scholarly disciplines and artistic fields, 69 different academic institutions, 31 states, and 3 Canadian provinces are represented in this year’s class of Fellows, who range in age from 29 to 80.

“It’s exceptionally satisfying to name 175 new Guggenheim Fellows,” Edward Hirsch, president of the Foundation, said. “These artists and writers, scholars and scientists, represent the best of the best. Each year since 1925, the Guggenheim Foundation has bet everything on the individual, and we’re thrilled to continue to do so with this wonderfully talented and diverse group. It’s an honor to be able to support these individuals to do the work they were meant to do.”

Since its establishment in 1925, the Foundation has granted more than $360 million in Fellowships to over 18,000 individuals, among whom are scores of Nobel laureates, Fields Medalists, poets laureate, members of the various national academies, and winners of the Pulitzer Prize, Turing Award, National Book Awards, and other important, internationally-recognized honors.

For more information on the Fellows and their projects, please visit the Foundation’s website.

Guggenheim Fellowships by Bennington Writing Seminars Alumni and/or Faculty Members:

2017: Fiona Maazel MFA ’02

2014: Claire Vaye Watkins, former faculty member

2013: J. C. Hallman, former faculty member; Major Jackson, faculty member

2011: Patricia Volk, former faculty member

2010: Peter Trachtenberg, faculty member

2007: Maria Flook, former faculty member

2005: Mark Slouka, former faculty member

2003: April Bernard, faculty member

2001: Brian Morton, former faculty member; George Packer, former faculty member

2000: Amy Hempel, faculty member

1999: Bernard Cooper, former faculty member

1994: Sven Birkerts, faculty member

1990: Lynn Freed, former faculty member

1988: David Gates, faculty member; Phillip Lopate, former faculty member

1985: Liam Rector, former Director of Bennington Writing Seminars and faculty member

1984: Susan Cheever, faculty member; Lynne Sharon Schwartz, faculty member

1980: Mary Oliver, former faculty member  

1975: Edward Hoagland, former faculty member

1972: Donald Hall, former faculty member

1964: Edward Hoagland, former faculty member

1963: Donald Hall, former faculty member