Institutional News

Rothman-Zecher Receives Donald Hall Scholarship for Poets

The Bennington Writing Seminars is pleased to announce that Moriel Rothman-Zecher is the recipient of the Donald Hall Scholarship for Poets. He will begin his studies in January 2021. 

Image of Moriel Rothman-Zecher

Rothman-Zecher is the author of the novel Sadness Is a White Bird, for which he received the National Book Foundation’s "5 Under 35" honor, and which was a finalist for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, the winner of the Ohioana Book Award, a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award, the winner of the Cincinnati Books by the Banks Author Award, and long-listed for the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize. His essays and poems have been published in The Common, Haaretz, The New York Times, The Paris Review’s Daily, Runner’s World, The Tel Aviv Review of Books, and ZYZZYVA Magazine, among others.

He is the recipient of two MacDowell Fellowships, and a Wallis Annenberg Helix Fellowship for Yiddish Cultural Studies. His second novel is forthcoming from Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.

One full scholarship––made possible by a generous anonymous donor––is awarded to the top poetry candidate as identified by Bennington’s admissions readers. Hall, former United States poet laureate, and longtime BWS writer-in-residence, passed away at the age of 89. Hall’s involvement with the Seminars extends to the program’s very beginning in 1994. Hall was a long-time friend of Liam Rector, the Seminars’ founding director, and he remained deeply involved with the program.

“Poetry is embedded in the soul of the Bennington Writing Seminars and we are delighted that Moriel will be joining our stellar program as the third recipient of this full scholarship,” said Mark Wunderlich, Director of the Bennington Writing Seminars. “Our poetry alumni have gone on to win the National Book Award, the Guggenheim, the National Book Critics Circle Award, Pushcart Prizes, Stegner Fellowships, and Rona Jaffe Awards, among other accolades. We are grateful to this generous donor for investing in the genre specifically, at a critically important time, and in the program in general.”

“I am profoundly grateful to receive Bennington’s Donald Hall Scholarship for Poets,” said Rothman-Zecher. “As a novelist, I have looked to poetry for inspiration and guidance, for lessons about rhythm and language and aboutlessness (as the poet Frank X. Gaspar wrote, 'It’s never the aboutness of anything but the wailing underneath it'). I realized at some point during this year's pandemic that I wanted to engage more deeply with poetry for poetry’s sake, and not only as a supplement to my fiction writing. It is a privilege to get to do so alongside the faculty and students in Bennington’s Writing Seminar.”

Rothman-Zecher was born in Jerusalem, and lives in Yellow Springs, Ohio with his family.