Flora Ettlinger Whiting was the daughter of Louis E. Ettlinger who owned the Crowell, Collier Publishing Company and the Persian Rug Manufactory. In 1899, she married Giles Whiting, an architect and designer. She made an early investment in IBM when they still made cash registers and by the time of her death in 1971, she was a very wealthy woman.
Since 1985, the Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation has supported creative writing through the Whiting Writers’ Awards which are given annually to 10 emerging writers in fiction, nonfiction, poetry and plays. Each winner receives $50,000.
This year, four of the 10 winners of the Whiting Writers’ Awards are African Americans. Three of these four African American winners currently hold faculty positions in academia.
Rowan Ricardo Phillips is a poet, literary critic, and translator. He is an associate professor of English and director of the Poetry Center at Stony Brook University, a campus of the State University of New York system. Dr. Phillips is a graduate of Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania and holds a Ph.D. in English literature from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. He is the author of When Blackness Rhymes Blackness (Dalkey Archive Press, 2010). He has also published The Grounds: Poems (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012).
Stephanie Powell Watts is an associate professor of English at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Dr. Watts is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and holds a Ph.D. from the University of Missouri. Her short story collection, We Are Taking Only What We Need (BkMK Press, 2011) won the 2012 Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. She is currently working on a novel entitled No One Is Coming to Save Us.
Ishion Hutchinson is an assistant professor of English at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Dr. Hutchinson is a graduate of the University of the West Indies. He holds a master of fine arts degree from New York University and a Ph.D. from the University of Utah. His first collection of poetry, Far District: Poems, was published in 2010 by Peepal Tree Press.