Mazel tov to one of our favorite Jewish writers, Ben Lerner, for winning one of the most prestigious awards out there. Just yesterday, the 22 winners of the 2015 “genius” grants from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation were announced, with Lerner among them. Check out the other four Jewish writers who also won fellowships.
The fellowship recipients hail from a variety of fields, including writing, music, photography, biology and economics. Each winner receives $625,000 over five years to continue his or her work. In particular, 36-year-old Lerner is a noted poet, critic, and novelist who currently teaches at Brooklyn College, was also a past recipient of the Guggenheim fellowship. Among other awards, he was a nominee for the 2013 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature.
So, what’s he going to do with all this cash? He told The New York Times Magazine how winning the fellowship might actually enable him to spend more time writing and less time teaching, as he’ll be able to afford child care for his 2-½-year-old and 3-month-old. Yes, it’s pretty sad that we have to win awards just to afford child care. Such is life, I guess?
He also stated, “It takes away all your excuses to not be doing the most ambitious work. It means you don’t have to take on more things. You use the money to make space for the work.”
We can definitely get behind helping working parents. And, you know, parents are artists and writers, too.
Watch Lerner talk about why he writes, what it’s like living in Brooklyn, and what it means to make art: