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BENNINGTON — Bennington Review, Bennington College’s biannual literary magazine, went 30 years between editions.

Now, six years after it was relaunched, the magazine has been honored for excellence by a foundation dedicated to promoting literature and the arts.

The Whiting Foundation announced Thursday that the magazine was one of five publications honored in its fifth Literary Magazine Prizes. The foundation said the prizes are meant to reward print and digital magazines “among the most innovative and essential publications at the forefront of American literary culture.”

Editor in chief Michael Dumanis said the prize, which is accompanied by a $30,000 grant, “will enable us to increase what we are able to pay our contributors, expand our readership and launch new initiatives. We are grateful to the Whiting Foundation for honoring our efforts to support innovative contemporary literature.”

The Bennington Review won in the small budget print category, for publications with a budget less than $150,000. Four other journals were honored.

Demanis said the award means a lot, given the Whiting Foundation’s role as “a key supporter and promoter of literary arts and programming.”

“Literary journals, despite a relatively small readership, exert a tremendous influence on national literary culture, serving as the first homes for the stories and poems of a next generation of major literary figures and creating a space for literary innovation and experimentation,” Dumanis said in an email. “But small journals, especially print journals, are increasingly vulnerable and endangered on the literary landscape. The Whiting’s generosity enables them to survive and expand their reach.”

“We expect the award to raise the magazine’s profile even further,” he added.

The award comes with a $30,000 prize, but that money is paid over three years — with the awards acting as matching grants in the second and third years.

The Bennington Review returned to publication in 2016 with the goal of “reinforcing the value” of curated literary collections in the digital age, “with a focus on aesthetic and cultural inclusivity and a dedication to championing vibrant and idiosyncratic poetry and prose that is as graceful as it is reckless.”

Work first published in the magazine has been reprinted in multiple editions of “Best American Poetry” and the “Pushcart Prize Anthology.” After its first two issues, it was recognized with the “Firecracker” award for best debut literary magazine of the past five years by the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses.

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In a world where so much content is consumed online (this newspaper included), and where time to read is increasingly at a premium, a printed journal offers a break from modern trends, Dumanis said.

“We believe there is always a desire for an object that can be held in one’s hands, for the opportunity to spend a quiet moment with a poem or a story,” he said. “And of course, we are delighted (and always a little surprised) when we hear back from enthusiastic readers.”

Students are able to work as editorial assistants for Bennington Review and take part in the editorial process through a literary editing and publishing practicum offered for credit each year. The journal also offers an internship during a fieldwork term each winter.

The editorial team includes Dumanis and managing editor Katrina Turner. Fiction editor Benjamin Anastas is stepping away this fall, and will be succeeded by Bennington professor Manuel Gonzales.

The magazine was judged as a whole for its work, rather than a particular issue. But Bennington College said the judges did review the entirety of issue No. 9, “The Health of the Sick.”

The cover of the most recent issue, No. 10, “Return to A Meadow,” features work by Vermont Poet Laureate Mary Ruefle from her “Erasures” exhibit at the Robert Frost Stone House Museum.

The Bennington Review was initially launched in 1966, by alumnus Laurence J. Hyman, the son of faculty member Stanley Edgar Hyman and author Shirley Jackson. It at first focused on publishing work by faculty and alumni, including Bernard Malamud, Helen Frankenthaler and Kenneth Burke.

Gradually, the journal came to publish work from outside the Bennington College community, and was relaunched as a national publication in 1978. Under the direction of editors Robert Boyers and Nicholas Delbanco, it published works by established writers including John Updike, Joyce Carol Oates, Annie Dillard and John Ashbery, and by emerging writers of the era, including David Remnick and Louis Men. It ceased publication in 1985.

The foundation called the relaunched Bennington Review “a visually stunning journal with an imaginative and sophisticated vision that offers hands-on experience to the next generation of editors.”

“With an editorial vision that is razor-sharp and whimsical all at once, Bennington Review foretells the future of literary magazines,” the award judges said on the Whiting Foundation website. ”Each issue is a jewel box of unabashedly intelligent and singular fiction, nonfiction and poetry, not to mention an uncommonly ample devotion to film criticism and work in translation. Its design is handsome and bold, its impact on readers and writers profound. Literary talent will radiate out of Bennington Review for years to come.”

The Bennington Review welcomes submissions — including fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction and writing about film — through its website, from emerging and established writers who are not faculty, students or staff at Bennington. Dumanis said the magazine receives between 1,000 and 1,500 unsolicited submissions in a month, and accepts between 1 percent and 3 percent for publication.

Greg Sukiennik covers government and politics for Vermont News & Media. Reach him at

Greg Sukiennik has worked at all three Vermont News & Media newspapers and was their managing editor from 2017-19. He previously worked for, for the AP in Boston, and at The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, Mass.


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