headshots of Kurt Brown judges Kao Kalia Yang (nonfiction), Sherwin Bitsui (poetry), and Deesha Philyaw (fiction)

Kurt Brown WC&C Scholarships

Every year, AWP awards three $500 scholarships to three first-place winners in the genres of creative nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. These scholarships must be used to attend a writers’ conference, center, retreat, festival, or residency at one of the AWP member programs in the Directory of Conferences & Centers. All winners and six finalists will also receive a one-year individual membership.

In 1990, Kurt Brown founded WC&C, a coalition of writers’ conferences and festivals, to help these groups support one another and thrive. Kurt was a friend and mentor to many writers, as well as a poet, editor, memoirist, essayist, teacher, and administrator. Today, the group he founded is an important part of AWP; we hope you will take the time to visit our directory and explore them all. There is an excellent chance you will find one that meets in your local area that can help you connect with a community of writers and friends.

Meet Our 2023 Kurt Brown Judges

Kao Kalia Yang is a Hmong American writer. She is the author of the memoirs The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir, The Song Poet, and Somewhere in the Unknown World. Yang wrote the children’s books A Map Into the World, The Shared Room, The Most Beautiful Thing, Yang Warriors, and From the Tops of the Trees. She co-edited the ground-breaking collection What God is Honored Here?: Writings on Miscarriage and Infant Loss by and for Native Women and Women of Color. Yang’s work has been recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Chautauqua Prize, the PEN America literary awards, the Dayton’s Literary Peace Prize, as Notable Books by the American Library Association, Kirkus Best Books of the Year, the Heartland Bookseller’s Award, Bank Street College of Education, the Midland Authors Award, and garnered four Minnesota Book Awards. Kao Kalia Yang is also a teacher and public speaker.

Sherwin Bitsui (Diné) is the author of Dissolve and Flood Song (Copper Canyon Press) and Shapeshift (University of Arizona Press). He is of the Bįį’tóó’nii’ Tódi’chii’nii clan and is born for the Tlizilłani’ clan. He is from White Cone, Arizona, on the Navajo Reservation. His honors include the 2011 Lannan Literary Fellowship, a Native Arts & Culture Foundation Fellowship for Literature, a PEN Open Book Award, an American Book Award, and a Whiting Writers Award. Bitsui teaches for the MFA in Creative Writing Program at Northern Arizona University.

Deesha Philyaw’s debut short story collection, The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, won the 2021 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the 2020/2021 Story Prize, and the 2020 LA Times Book Prize: The Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction, and was a finalist for the 2020 National Book Award for Fiction. The Secret Lives of Church Ladies focuses on Black women, sex, and the Black church, and is being adapted for television by HBO Max with Tessa Thompson executive producing. Philyaw is also a Kimbilio Fiction Fellow and the 2022-2023 John and Renée Grisham Writer-in-Residence at the University of Mississippi.

2023 Kurt Brown WC&C Scholarships Eligibility & Guidelines

  • Previous recipients of Kurt Brown WC&C Scholarships and former or current students of the judges are not eligible to submit.
  • Writers’ names must not appear on the submissions or they will be disqualified.
  • For fiction and creative nonfiction, up to ten unpublished pages will be considered. Work must be double-spaced and presented in twelve-point font.
  • For poetry, five to ten unpublished poems will be considered. Each new poem must start on a new page.
  • You may enter in more than one genre, and you may also enter multiple manuscripts in one genre, provided that each submission is accompanied by its own $10 entry fee.
  • Winners have one year to use their prize, and funds are paid directly to the selected program; unused funds will not be issued to the writer.
  • Member conferences reserve the right to determine entry to their programs; winning does not guarantee admittance to any program.

Previous Award Recipients

Tribute to Kurt Brown
List of Winners

Check out previous winners