Bennington College has launched a first-of-its-kind anthology of premier fiction, poetry, and nonfiction selected from more than 40 American undergraduate literary journals. Featuring work from Brown, Boston College, UCLA, the University of Chicago, Harvard, Princeton, Oberlin, Stanford, and Tulane, among others, plain china: Best Undergraduate Writing 2009 is the only national online compilation of undergraduate writing.
The anthology’s debut issue was compiled by student editors at Bennington and judged by prominent writers and editors, including C. Michael Curtis, fiction editor of The Atlantic, award-winning poet April Bernard, and renowned memoirist Susan Cheever.
Bernard called the competition “by far the most difficult—and most inspiring—contest I have ever judged, simply because the quality of the work was so high and so various.”
Bennington student editors selected 79 pieces of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction from 56 undergraduate literary publications. Students also chose artwork from journals to accompany each literary piece. The anthology will launch online in three installments: the first on March 29, the second on April 26, and the third on May 24. One aim of plain china is to create a much needed public forum for the often overlooked voices of undergraduate writers.
“Collectively, these pieces showcase the creative writing talent and potential that exists in colleges throughout the country,” said Rebecca Godwin, plain china’s faculty editor. “We’re thrilled to make their work available to a wider academic and public audience. And with its rich literary tradition, Bennington seems a natural place for such an idea to come together.”