Winners of the 2008 AWP Award Series
The AWP Award Series in Creative Nonfiction
Winner: Sonja Livingston
Ghostbread, University of Georgia Press
Kathleen Norris, Judge:
“I know where I came from.” With this declaration, the author of Ghostbread takes us on a journey through a childhood scarred by poverty and graced by love. Like an American version of Angela’s Ashes, the book allows us to encounter— and see, taste, and smell it— through the eyes of a beleaguered and intelligent child. We are grateful to be reminded of the human reality at the heart of a world that is all too often hidden in governmental “poverty indicators,” and also glad that the author has survived to tell the tale.
Sonja Livingston’s nonfiction has been honored with a NYFA Fellowship, an Iowa Review Award, Pushcart Prize nomination, and grants from Vermont Studio Center and The Deming Fund, as well as an AWP Intro Award. Her work has appeared in many literary journals including the Iowa Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Southeast Review, AGNI, the Spoon River Poetry Review, Gulf Coast, and is anthologized in SHORT TAKES and THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER. Sonja holds an MFA from the University of New Orleans and an M.S. Ed. from SUNY Brockport. She teaches in UCLA Extension’s Writing Program.
Finalist: Rebecca McClanahan, Coming of (a Certain) Age in New York City: Essays and Exhalations
The AWP Award Series in the Novel
Winner: Goldie Goldbloom
Toad's Museum of Freaks and Wonders, New Issues Press
Joanna Scott, Judge:
Toad's Museum of Freaks and Wonders is a strange, mesmerizing tale about characters uncomfortably defined by superficial eccentricities. It is also a wrenching love story.
Goldie Goldbloom's stories have appeared in StoryQuarterly and Narrative Magazine. She lives in Chicago and has eight children.
Donald Hall Prize for Poetry
Winner: Beth Bachmann
Temper, University of Pittsburgh Press
Lynn Emanuel, Judge:
Beth Bachmann's Temper is an unforgettable first book. Embodied in a poetry that quakes with sorrow one moment and is steely with forensic detail the next--the drainage gate... the tearing/of a pleated skirt— Temper's account of a murder encompasses the polarities of flesh and spirit, love and horror. The drama of this horrifying event, however, is not what is most compelling about Temper. What is most compelling is the way Beth Bachmann presides over the drama with a courage and restraint which manifest themselves as the beauty of these poems.
Beth Bachmann’s poems appear in American Poetry Review, Black Warrior Review, Kenyon Review, Southern Review, and Tin House, among other journals, and are forthcoming in Ploughshares. Her work has been honored with a grant from the Tennessee Arts Commission and has been anthologized in Best New Poets 2005 and 2007. She holds graduate degrees from The Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars and Concordia University in Montreal. She teaches creative writing at Vanderbilt University.
Finalist: Sam Witt, Occupation: Dreamland
The Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction
Winner: Ramola D
Temporary Lives & Other Stories, University of Massachusetts Press
Jewell Parker Rhodes, Judge:
Temporary Lives is a polished, well-crafted and profound collection worthy of AWP's Grace Paley Award for Short Fiction. Exploring oppressed peoples of India--men and women, across a range of ages-- is no small feat. The children in "The Next Corpse Collector" are as well-rounded and significant as the suffering wife in Temporary Lives and as textured and evocative as the memory and lingering spirit, Esther, in "Esther." I particularly liked the author's ability to stop time--to reveal in small moments the largeness (and, sometimes, the tragic smallness) of life. Plot is the moment-to- moment living, breathing actions of characters. Interior lives are burnished with precise, sensual prose. I loved all the stories in this collection and how the thematic vision of Temporary Lives was fulfilled.
Ramola D teaches creative writing at The George Washington University and The Writer’s Center, Bethesda. Her short fiction, poetry, and writer-interviews have appeared in several journals. Her fiction was shortlisted under 100 Other Distinguished Stories in Best American Stories 2007, and included in Best American Fantasy 2007 and Enhanced Gravity: More Fiction by Washington DC Women Writers (Paycock Press, 2006). A recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship in poetry in 2005, her poetry collection Invisible Season won the 1998 Washington Writers’ Publishing House award. Her poetry has been reprinted in Best American Poetry 1994, appeared on metro buses in Arlington, Virginia as winner of a Moving Words poetry competition (April-Sept. 2005), and been translated into dance through Jane Franklin’s Dancing the Page program (April 2006).