Yale University has awarded 2021 Windham-Cambell Prizes to theatre writers Michael R. Jackson and Nathan Alan Davis.
The annual English-language prize for literary achievement awards eight writers each a $165,000 unrestricted grant to support their continued writing. Along with Jackson and Davis for drama, this year’s recipients are Vivian Gornick and Kate Briggs for nonfiction, Dionne Brand and Renee Gladman for fiction, and Canisia Lubrin and Natalie Scenters-Zapico for poetry.
Michael R. Jackson won a 2020 Pulitzer Prize for his semi-autobiographical musical A Strange Loop. The work, along with his most recent piece White Girl in Danger, explores themes of Black identity. He is the first musical theatre writer recognized with a Windham-Campbell Prize. “In a culture preoccupied with “representation” and “content creation,” this award feels like a validation of my preoccupation with pushing the boundaries of form as I attempt to untangle some of the deeper questions and contradictions of our rapidly changing world,” Jackson said.
Nathan Alan Davis is currently the Berlind Playwright-in-Residence at Princeton University. His works include Dontrell Who Kissed the Sea, Nat Turner in Jerusalem, and The Wind and the Breeze. Davis plays with form, using rap and rhyme, to examine what it means to be Black in America in his lyrical dramas.
The prize was established in 2013 with a significant gift from Donald Windham in memory of his partner of 40 years, Sandy Campbell. Previous recipients for drama include Aleshea Harris and Julia Cho in 2020, as well as Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Young Jean Lee, Suzan-Lori Parks, Lucas Hnath, and Jackis Sibblies Drury among others.