EastBay Today

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Posted April 30, 2018

Cal State East Bay Student Receives Prestigious Writing Award

Brontez Purnell was selected as one of 10 winners for the 2018 Whiting Award

Brontez Purnell was recently selected as one of 10 winners of the 2018 Whiting Award.
Courtesy of Whiting Foundation

Explorations of blackness, queerness, maleness and southerness caught the attention of The Whiting Foundation this year when Oakland novelist and Cal State East Bay Theatre Arts student Brontez Purnell was selected as one of 10 winners for the 2018 Whiting Award.

Purnell is the author of “Since I Laid My Burden Down” and has written for various publications, including the online edition of “Jigsaw,” “San Francisco Weekly” and “Maximum Rock & Roll.” Purnell is also a “zinester,” writer, dancer and musician.

Since 1985, The Whiting Foundation has honored 330 nonfiction and fiction writers, poets and playwrights with annual awards totaling more than $7.5 million to date. It remains one of the most esteemed and largest in monetary gifts awarded to emerging writers.

“Year on year, we’re astounded by the fresh ways Whiting winners challenge form and stretch the capabilities of language while scrutinizing what’s most urgent in the culture,” said Courtney Hodell, director of writers’ programs. “The award is intended to give them the freedom to keep experimenting and growing.”

This year’s ceremony was held March 21 at the New-York Historical Society. Keynote speakers included Toni Morrison, a Nobel Prize laureate.