Austin Community College announces the winner of the 2014 Balcones Poetry Prize: ONCE IN THE WEST (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux) by Christian Wiman

The Creative Writing Department and the Division of Arts and Humanities at Austin Community College are pleased to announce the 2014 Balcones Poetry Prize. The prize of $1,500 recognizes an outstanding book of poetry published during the year.

Once in the West, published by Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, is the fourth collection of poetry by Christian Wiman, who is also the author of two books of prose. Born and rasied in West Texas, he earned a BA from Washington and Lee University and has taught at Northwestern University, Stanford University, Lynchburg College and the Prague School of Economics. From 2003 to 2013, he was editor of Poetry magazine. He currently teaches in the Yale Divinity School and the Yale Institute of Sacred Music.

Christian Wiman

Christian Wiman

Wiman’s poems are known for their musicality as well as their exploration of faith and doubt. The judges said, “The startling, revelatory poems…remind us that wisdom, like rhythm, is a necessary ingredient of poetry.” His “lines of arresting emotional accuracy” are “often edgy with recognition of human frailty, both spiritual and physical.” His “daringly spare, ceaselessly inventive music, his distinctive and heartening mix of earthiness and questing spiritualty” are “meant as a thrilling wake-up and usable courage-stone to spur us through “lordless mornings.” “I don’t know another contemporary poet who conjures such trill and song from our language…but I love this book equally for its fearless engagement with big ideas—faith, memory, illness, and amidst what is left, “days veined with grace.”

Four finalists were also named:

  •  Storm Toward Morning, Malachi Black (Copper Canyon Press)
  • A Woman Without a Country, Eavan Boland (W. W. Norton and Company)
  • The New Testament, Jericho Brown (Copper Canyon Press)
  • To the Bramble and the Briar, Steve Scafidi (The University of Arkansas Press)

The judges for the 2014 prize were Cyrus Cassells, a poet and professor at Texas State University; Vive Griffith, a poet, director of the Free Minds project at the Univeristy of Texas, and professor of creative writing at Austin Community College; and Chris Leche, a poet and professor of creative writing at Austin Community College.

Former winners of the Balcones Poetry Prize:

  • Jessica Piazza, Interrobang, 2013
  • Natalie Diaz, When My Brother Was an Aztec, 2012
  • Mark Jarmon, Bone Fires, 2011
  • Chase Twichell, Horses Where the Answers Should Have Been, 2010
  • Bill Berkson, Portrait and Dream, 2009
  • Michael McGriff, Dismantling the Hills, 2008
  • Aimee Nezhukumatahil, At the Drive–In Volcano, 2007
  • Lorna Dee Cervantes, Drive, 2006
  • Aaron Anstett, No Accident, 2005
  • Lorenzo Thomas, Dancing on Main Street, 2004
  • John Hogden, Bread Without Sorrow, 2002
  • Carol Potter, Short History of Pets, 2001
  • Dana Levin, In the Surgical Theatre, 2000
  • Arthur Sze, The Red-Shifting Web, 1999
  • Reginald Gibbons, Sparrow: New and Selected Poems, 1997
  • Lucia Perillo, The Body Mutinies, 1996
  • Kathleen Halme, Every Substance Clothed, 1995

Austin Community College awards the Balcones Poetry Prize annually for a book of poetry published during the year. Nominations for the 2015 prize will be accepted from September 1, 2015 through January 31, 2016.

For more information: John Herndon, Austin Community College, 1212 Rio Grande Street, Austin, Texas 78701, 512-828-9368, jherndon@austincc.edu.

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ACC announces winner of the 2014 Balcones Fiction Prize: HOLD THE DARK by William Giraldi

The Creative Writing Department and the Division of Arts and Humanities at Austin Community College are pleased to announce the winner of the Balcones Fiction Prize. The prize of $1,500 recognizes an outstanding book of literary fiction published during 2014.

William Giraldi

William Giraldi

Hold the Dark by William Giraldi (Liveright/Norton) is set in a bleak Alaskan winter when wolves take three children from an isolated Alaskan village, including the six-year-old son of Medora and Vernon Slone. Medora contacts nature writer and wolf expert Russell Core to investigate the killings. He discovers horrifying darkness at the heart of Medora Slone and learns of an unholy truth harbored by this village. When Vernon Slone returns from a desert war to discover his son dead and his wife missing, he begins a methodical pursuit across this frozen landscape. Aided by his boyhood companion Cheeon, and pursued by the stalwart detective Donald Marium, Slone is without mercy, cutting a bloody swath through the wilderness of his homeland. As Russell Core attempts to rescue Medora from her husband’s vengeance, he comes face to face with an unspeakable secret at the furthermost reaches of American soil—a secret about the unkillable bonds of family, and the untamed animal in the soul of every human being.

Giraldi is the author of the critically hailed Busy Monsters and fiction editor for the journal AGNI at Boston University. He lives in Boston with his wife and sons.

Novelist A.G. Mojtabai, who judged the 2014 prize, said in Giraldi’s novel “setting becomes character, landscape—inscape. An unnamed yet excruciatingly familiar desert war zone and an Alaskan wilderness outpost, twin darknesses, are plumbed to reveal the darkness of human hearts.The tale is told in prose with the compression, the density, of poetry. Giraldi picks his words with profound care, as if for the first naming, as if lives are at stake in naming things rightly.”

Five finalists were also named:

  • Byrd by Kim Church (Dzanc Books)
  • A Falling Star by Chantel Acevedo (Carolina Wren Press)
  • Out of Peel Tree by Laura Long (West Virginia University Press)
  • Uncle Anton’s Atomic Bomb by Ian Woollen (Coffeetown Press)
  • What Ends by Andrew Ladd (New Issues)

Austin Community College awards the Balcones Fiction Prize annually for a book of literary fiction published during the year. Nominations for the 2015 prize will be accepted from September 1, 2015 through January 31, 2016.

For more information: Joe O’Connell, 1212 Rio Grande Street, Austin, Texas 78701, joconne@austincc.edu.

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BALCONES PRIZE WINNERS READING ON APRIL 15

ACC_CrWr_Balcones2015_poster

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Austin Community College announces the winner of the 2013 Balcones Fiction Prize: GIRLS I KNOW (Sixoneseven Books) by Douglas Trevor.

The Creative Writing Department and the Division of Arts and Humanities at Austin Community College are pleased to announce the 2013 Balcones Fiction Prize. The prize of $1,500 recognizes an outstanding book of literary fiction published during the year.

Trevor-Douglas-BW

Girls I Know (Sixoneseven Books) by Douglas Trevor follows 29-year-old Walt Steadman—grad school dropout, sperm donor, and holder of other odd jobs— who survives a shooting in his favorite Boston café that leaves four people dead. During the course of the book, Walt, a female Harvard undergraduate named Ginger who is writing a book about women and violence, and an 11-year-old African-American girl whose parents were killed in the shooting, together come to face what it means to try to make sense of life in the wake of violent loss.

Trevor is the author of short story collection The Thin Tear in the Fabric of Space, winner of the Iowa Short Fiction Award and finalist for the 2006 Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award for First Fiction. He lives in Ann Arbor, where he is an Associate Professor of Renaissance Literature and Creative Writing in the English Department at the University of Michigan.

Novelist Carolyn Osborn, who judged the 2013 prize, said Trevor’s novel provides “a contemporary answer to meaningless violence and, at the same time, hope for a reasonable future. These interwoven characters manage to help each other by accident, by luck, and by goodwill. Nothing is forced or fanciful. Resolutions are reached skillfully in clear prose leading a reader to see that rampant evil can be assuaged if not totally overcome. The writer is to be congratulated for his sensibly balanced point of view that allows his readers to understand people from different cultures, their griefs, their acceptances, and their means of survival.”

Five finalists were also named:

  • Hotel Juarez (Arte Publico) by Daniel Chacon
  • Nothing Serious (Permanent Press) by Daniel Klein
  • If I’d Known You Were Coming (University of Iowa Press) by Kate Milliken
  • Think of Me and I’ll Know (Triquarterly) by Anthony Varallo
  • The Golem and the Jinni (Harper) by Helene Wecker

The deadline for nominations for the 2014 Balcones Fiction Prize is January 31, 2015.

For more information: Joe O’Connell, 1212 Rio Grande Street, Austin, Texas 78701, joconne@austincc.edu, www.austincc.edu/crw.

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Austin Community College announces the winner of the 2013 Balcones Poetry Prize: INTERROBANG (Red Hen Press) by Jessica Piazza

The Creative Writing Department and the Division of Arts and Humanities at Austin Community College are pleased to announce the 2013 Balcones Poetry Prize. The prize of $1,500 recognizes an outstanding book of poetry published during the year.

Jessica Piazza

Interrobang by Jessica Piazza, published by Red Hen Press, is a first book. Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Piazza earned a BS at Boston University, where she interned with US Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky, and an MA at the University of Texas; she recently completed a PhD in English Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Southern California.

The judges said, “Piazza’s poetry has an air of potent volatility. She works with a great knowledge of and love for words.” “The wordplay, with sounds developing sense in surprising ways, makes for great fun and insight. Often working within the sonnet form, the poet “makes it new” through her voice that remains uninhibited by rhyme scheme or line length and even seems to thrive on such strictures.” She “will grab you by the hand and run with you through familiar mazes of form, stopping briefly to delight in intimacy and assonance.”

The poet will visit Austin Community College to read from her work April 8, 2015.

Four finalists were also named: Ain’t No Grave (New Issues Press), by T.J. Jarrett; Duppy Conqueror, (Copper Canyon Press), Kwame Dawes; Flame in the Air (Casasola Editores) by Vidaluz Meneses, translated by Maria Roof; and The Government of Nature (University of Pittsburgh Press) by Afaa Michael Weaver.

The judges for the 2014 prize were Dave Oliphant, poet, author, editor and professor retired from the University of Texas and Austin Community College; Peggy Kelley, poet, attorney and yogini living in Austin; and Louisa Spaventa, poet and professor of writing and literature at Austin Community College.

The deadline for nominations for the 2014 Balcones Poetry Prize is January 31, 2015.

For more information:

 John Herndon, Associate Director, 
The Balcones Center for Creative Writing, 
Austin Community College, 
1212 Rio Grande Street,
 Austin, Texas 78701. 
512-828-9368, www.austincc.edu/crw.

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