Prize-winning writer Ander Monson, a 1997 Knox College graduate and 2008 Alumni Achievement Award recipient, has been selected for a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship.
Author of six books, Monson is among 173 people—a diverse group of scholars, artists, and scientists—who were awarded fellowships by the Board of Trustees of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. The fellowships were announced earlier this month.
Monson, who majored in English writing (now creative writing) at Knox, said his $50,000 Guggenheim grant is designed to provide him with dedicated time to finish a new book. The book is about watching the 1987 action film Predator, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, "and trying to use it to illuminate and disambiguate a few of the many strands of our present weird culture swamp," he said.
Monson said it's hard to know exactly how his Knox College education helped him get where he is now, "but certainly Knox offered me the freedom to explore not just writing, but a lot of possible futures."
"Being part of an exciting and supportive community imprinted on me somehow, and every place I've been after that I've been trying to remake that community to help grow writers and students," he added. "It also showed me that there's no subject too ridiculous—or small—or stupid-seeming—or strange that it can't reveal something important when looked at closely enough."
Monson has written three works of nonfiction (Neck Deep and Other Predicaments, Vanishing Point, and Letter to a Future Lover), two collections of poetry (Vacationland and The Available World), and a novel, Other Electricities. He directs the MFA program at the University of Arizona and also edits DIAGRAM magazine, the New Michigan Press, and Essay Daily.
He has received several prizes for his work, including a Howard Foundation Fellowship, the Graywolf Nonfiction Prize, the Annie Dillard Award for Nonfiction, and the Great Lakes Colleges New Writers Award in Nonfiction.
In addition, Monson's writing has been recognized in Best American Essays, an annual anthology. The 2016 edition of the book cited Monson's "Considering a Stain," published in Sierra Nevada Review, in its "Notable Essays and Literary Nonfiction of 2015" section. The 2013 edition of Best American Essays featured Monson's "The Exhibit Will Be So Marked," which originally appeared in Normal School literary magazine.
Monson and the other Guggenheim recipients this year were chosen from a pool of almost 3,000 applicants, according to a news release from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.
Foundation President Edward Hirsch added: "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 being established in 1925, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation has granted more than $350 million in Fellowships to more than 18,000 individuals, including Nobel laureates, Fields Medalists, Turing Award winners, poets laureate, members of the various national academies, and winners of the Pulitzer Prize.