The Gurfein Writing Fellowship

Congratulations to 2015 Gurfein Writing Fellows Erin Robinson-Lis and Cari Pattison.  The judges also recognized Ellen Bregman this year with an Honorable Mention. 

Students in The Writing Institute are eligible for The Kathryn Gurfein Writing Fellowship at Sarah Lawrence College, an award created by Kathy Gurfein and designed to provide two recipients chosen by a select panel of judges with a yearlong opportunity to work closely with a mentor on a writing project of their choice. Previous Gurfein Writing Fellows have been signed by literary agents and are published in newspapers, magazines, and journals.

Current and past judges have included:

Mark Medoff (Panel Chair): Playwright, screenwriter, and director of stage, film, and opera. Mr. Medoff received a Tony Award for Children of a Lesser God, for which he was also nominated for an Academy Award. He is the winner of London's Society of West End Theatres Award for best play and nominee for a Cable Ace Award for his HBO premiere movie, Apology. He has also received an OBIE Award for When You Comin' Back, Red Ryder? Mr. Medoff was co-founder of the American Southwest Theatre Company and Head of the Department of Theatre Arts for nine years. He is currently Distinguished Lecturer in Playwriting at the University of Houston. He has also been named Senior Fellow in the Creative Media Institute at New Mexico State University, where he taught for 27 years.

Lynda Sturner: Lynda’s plays have been produced in New York. Tokyo, Provincetown and Valdez Alaska. Her short play, Look What You Made Me Do was published in Rowing To America, an anthology of new short plays by women from The Woman’s Project. The Death of Huey Newton was published by Broadway Play Publishing. The Victim Art Show was named one of the top theater works of the year by the Cape Cod Times. Lynda appeared on Broadway in Oliver and off-Broadway in The Effects of Gamma Rays on the Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds. She was the Artistic Director of the Provincetown Repertory Theatre and Playwright’s Forum in NYC a member of the Actor’s Studio Playwright’s Unit and the Woman’s Project. Lynda was co-president of The League of Professional Theatre Women in New York and writes for and She is currently developing a new play, A Talented Woman with co-writer Jim Dalglish.

Rachel Cohen (Sarah Lawrence Writing Faculty): Author of A Chance Meeting: Intertwined Lives of American Writers and Artists, published by Random House and chosen as one of the L.A. Times best books of the year and recipient of the 2003 PEN/Jerard Fund Award. Ms. Cohen has received numerous honors including a Fellowship at the New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU and Fellowships at The New York Foundation for the Arts and the MacDowell Colony, the oldest artists' colony in the United States.

Barbara Gordon: Three-time Emmy Award-winning documentary film producer and writer. Barbara Gordon has worked as a writer for NBC's Today Show; a writer-producer for WCBS-TV's Eye On Documentary Series; and writer-producer for PBS's The Great American Dream Machine and Black Journal. She is the best-selling author of I'm Dancing as Fast as I Can, Jennifer Fever, and Defects of the Heart.

Andrew Gross: Author of The New York Times best-selling thrillers, The Blue Zone and The Dark Tide, and co-author of six #1 bestsellers with James Patterson, including the Women's Murder Club series, Lifeguard, and Judge and Jury. Eye Wide Open, Mr. Gross's new thriller, published by William Morrow, is on shelves now.

Stephen Lang: Tony-nominated and Drama Desk, Helen Hayes and Grace Award-winning actor and writer. Mr. Lang was recently nominated for a Saturn Award for best supporting actor for his role in James Cameron's Avatar, the highest-grossing movie of all time. Mr. Lang is also the co-artistic director of the Actors Studio in New York.

Marian Thurm (BA, Vassar College; MA, creative writing, Brown University) is the author of three short story collections and six novels. Her short stories have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Redbook, Ms., Michigan Quarterly Review, Boston Review, and many other magazines, and have been included in Best American Short Stories and numerous other anthologies. She has taught creative writing at Barnard, Columbia, and Yale.

Jon Pessah was a founding editor of ESPN the Magazine and has been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. A thirty-five year veteran of sports journalism in newspapers and magazines, he has written and edited sports at Newsday, Hartford Courant, and ESPN. His book, "The Game: Inside the Secret World of Major League Baseball's Power Brokers", will be released in May, 2015 by Little, Brown and Company. 

Nelly Reifler (BA, Hampshire College; MFA, Sarah Lawrence College): Author of the short story collection See Through. Her fiction has appeared in magazines and journals including Bomb, Post Road, McSweeney's, Nerve, and Black Book, as well as in anthologies including 110 Stories: New York Writes After September 11; Lost Tribe: New Jewish Fiction from the Edge, and Found Magazine's Requiem for a Paper Bag. She was the recipient of a Henfield Prize in 1995, a UAS Explorations Prize in 1997, and a Rotunda Gallery Emerging Curator grant for her work with fiction and art in 2001. Ms. Reifler has worked as a columnist for, 2006 – 2009; codirector of Pratt Institute's Friday Forum, 2005 – present; and is the founder and president of Dainty Rubbish record company.

The Gurfein Writing Fellows receive a year of one-on-one mentoring with outstanding members of the Sarah Lawrence faculty. Gurfein Fellowship Mentor Suzanne Gardinier is the author of The New World, winner of the Associated Writing Programs Award Series in poetry; A World That Will Hold All the People, essays on poetry and politics; Today: 101 Ghazals; and a new long poem called “Dialogue with the Archipelago.” Her fiction has appeared in The Kenyon Review, The American Voice, and The Paris Review. She is the recipient of The Kenyon Review Award for Literary Excellence in the Essay and of grants from the New York Foundation for the Arts and the Lannan Foundation. Gurfein Fellowship Mentor Mary LaChapelle is the author of House of Heroes and Other Stories and recipient of awards from PEN/Nelson Algren, Whiting and Katherine Anne Porter, and a Bush Foundation fellowship.

"In 2012, I was chosen as a Gurfein Fellow.  While working with my mentor, David Ryan, I began to craft a series of short stories.  David challenged my writing and inspired me to pursue my MFA.  I am now a first year MFA candidate at Sarah Lawrence College... I am in the process of completing my first collection of short stories.  

I am indebted to Kathryn Gurfein and her late husband Jim Gurfein, for their dedication to the craft of writing and their support of the individual writer." Melanie Anagnos 

Thank you to everyone who applied for the 2015 Kathryn Gurfein Writing Fellowship at Sarah Lawrence College

For more information on this unique award, please contact The Writing Institute at (914) 395-2205.

Congratulations Gurfein Writing Fellows!

The Kathryn Gurfein Writing Fellowship at Sarah Lawrence College is proud to announce its Ninth Annual, 2015 Writing Awards! Cari Pattison and Erin Robinson-Lis share this year's honor. The judges have also recognized Ellen Bregman with an Honorable Mention. 

The 2015 Gurfein Writing Fellows Winners

Cari Pattison
What Times Square Yoga Taught Me About Church

Read her piece»

Erin Robinson-Lis
An excerpt from 'Reluctant Hero'

Read an excerpt from her winning entry»

Honorable Mention

Ellen Bregman
An excerpt from "Control the Controllables" 

Read an excerpt»