Hollins Author Is Finalist for Library of Va. Literary Award

Hollins University Professor of English Cathryn Hankla is among the nine authors who are finalists for the 20th Annual Library of Virginia Literary Awards.

The Library of Virginia’s annual literary awards recognize the best books published the previous year by Virginia authors or on a Virginia theme. The winners in each of the three categories (fiction, nonfiction, and poetry) receive a monetary prize of $2,500.  The finalists are chosen by an independent panel of judges from hundreds of books nominated for the awards.

Hankla is one of three finalists in the poetry category for Great Bear, published by Groundhog Poetry Press.

The winner in each category will be announced at a gala celebration on Saturday, October 14, at the Library of Virginia in Richmond.

 


Hollins Professor’s Novel Wins Kafka Prize

As Close to Us as Breathing, a novel by Associate Professor of English Elizabeth Poliner, has captured the 2017 Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize.

Established in 1976 and presented by the Susan B. Anthony Institute for Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies and the Department of English at the University of Rochester, the Kafka Prize is given annually to a woman who is a U.S. citizen and has written the best book-length work of prose fiction, be it a novel, short story, or experimental writing.  Previous winners include such distinguished authors as Toni Morrison, Ursula Le Guin, and Anne Tyler.

According to the Kafka Prize webpage, the award honors its namesake, “a young editor who was killed in a car accident just as her career was beginning. Those who knew her believed she would do much to further the causes of literature and women. Her family, friends, and professional associates created the endowment from which the prize is bestowed, in memory of Janet Heidinger Kafka and the literary standards and personal ideals for which she stood.”

Poliner will participate in a reading, award ceremony, and book signing at the University of Rochester on November 2.

As Close to Us as Breathing is the story of a close-knit Jewish family that strives to cope following a tragedy. The novel is “vivid, complex, and beautifully written,” said Edward P. Jones, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Known World. “[It] brims with characters who leave an indelible impression on the mind and heart. Elizabeth Poliner is a wonderful talent and she should be read widely, and again and again.”

The Kafka Prize is the latest of several honors the novel has received. In May, the book was named a finalist for the 2017 Library of Virginia People’s Choice Award. Last November, As Close to Us as Breathing was selected as one of Amazon’s Top 100 Editors’ Picks for 2016 and an Amazon Best Book for March of that year.

 

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Prof’s New Poetry Collection “A Book of Seeking, Beseeching”

Hollins University Professor of English Cathryn Hankla‘s new volume of poetry may be titled Galaxies, but don’t mistake it for an exploration of astronomy.

Mercer University Press, the publisher, instead describes it as “a book of seeking and beseeching. Galaxies forms a collective of connected but disparate things. Each galaxy grouping constitutes a gravitational system of concern, finding its own music and approach to what a poem can be. Together the poems create a spiritual pilgrimage, a sequence sending up an alarm for the earth, inviting the reader to walk a path to the heart’s center.”

Galaxies has already received considerable praise. Author Alice Fulton called it a “quietly mind-blowing book,” while poet and novelist Carol Moldaw said the collection consisted of “poems of lyric capaciousness, thoughtful, intricate, and enticing.”

Hankla will be discussing and reading from Galaxies during her upcoming book tour:

Tuesday, August 8
Bookworks, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 6 p.m.

Wednesday, August 9
Collected Works, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 6 p.m.

Saturday, August 12
Tattered Cover, Denver, Colorado, 2 p.m.

Tuesday, August 15
Colorado Mountain College, Leadville, Colorado, noon

Sunday, September 3
Malaprops, Asheville, North Carolina, 3 p.m.

Friday – Sunday, October 13 – 15
Southern Festival of the Book, Nashville, Tennessee

Thursday, November 9
Eleanor D. Wilson Museum, Hollins University, Roanoke, Virginia, 7 p.m.

Born in the Appalachian mountains of Virginia, Hankla teaches in the Jackson Center for Creative Writing at Hollins and serves as the poetry editor of The Hollins Critic. She has published 12 previous books of fiction and poetry, including Fortune Teller Miracle Fish and Great Bear.

 


Hollins Professor’s New Novel Garners Considerable Attention

The author of one of the country’s most-talked-about new novels also happens to be a member of the Hollins University faculty.

Associate Professor of English Elizabeth Poliner’s As Close to Us as Breathing (Lee Boudreaux Books) has been named an Amazon Best Book for March 2016 and is one of four new releases this month that W magazine calls “must reads.”  Reviews have also been published or are forthcoming in The New York Times as well on NPR.org and in People, Good Housekeeping, and Washingtonian magazines.

As Close to Us as Breathing is the story of a close-knit Jewish family that strives to cope following a tragedy that occurs while summering at the Connecticut shore in 1948. Publishers Weekly calls the book “an exquisitely written investigation of grief and atonement, and an elegy for a Jewish family bound together by tradition and tribe.” Pulitzer Prize-winning author Edward P. Jones says, “Vivid, complex, and beautifully written, [it] brims with characters who leave an indelible impression on the mind and heart. This moving story of the way one unforgettable family struggles with love and loss shows an uncommon depth of human understanding. Elizabeth Poliner is a wonderful talent and she should be read widely, and again and again.”

In conjunction with the novel’s publication, Poliner will be appearing at the following bookstores during March and April:

Tuesday, March 15: Newtonville Books, Newton, MA, 7 p.m.

Thursday, March 17: RJ Julia Bookstore, Madison, CT, 7 p.m.

Saturday, March 19: Politics & Prose, Washington, DC, 6 p.m.

Sunday, March 20: Book Court, Brooklyn, NY, 4 p.m.

Tuesday, March 22: Longfellow Books, Portland, ME, 7 p.m.

Saturday, April 9: Op. Cit Books, Taos, NM


Hollins Writers Make National Book Awards Shortlists

Two Hollins authors are among the twenty finalists for one of the nation’s most prestigious literary prizes, the National Book Awards.

Five finalists each in the Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Young People’s Literature categories were announced on October 14.

Karen E. Bender, who joined the Hollins faculty this fall as the university’s Distinguished Visiting Professor of Creative Writing, is a first-time finalist in the Fiction category for her short-story collection, Refund. She is the author of the novels Like Normal People and A Town of Empty Rooms, and her fiction has appeared in The New Yorker and other magazines. She has previously won two Pushcart Prizes.

“The tales told in Karen Bender’s Refund, a collection of stories that centers on money and family, are exquisitely composed portraits of modern life, and chances are you will encounter characters that remind you a little or a lot of yourself,” said the Chicago Tribune. “That’s the brilliance of Bender’s storytelling….[her] ability to transform observations of life into uncomfortably realistic stories cannot be denied.” 

Hollins alumna and world-renowned photographer Sally Mann is on the shortlist in the Nonfiction category for her memoir, Hold Still. She has previously received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Guggenheim Foundation, and her photographs are held by major institutions internationally.

The New York Times called Hold Still “uncommonly beautiful” while The Atlantic described the bestseller as “gorgeously written and convincing.”

Mann’s many books include Second Sight (1983), At Twelve (1988), Immediate Family (1992), Still Time (1994), What Remains (2003), Deep South (2005), Proud Flesh (2009), and The Flesh and the Spirit (2010).

The National Book Awards will honor this year’s winners at a ceremony in New York City on November 18. Each recipient will be given a bronze sculpture and a $10,000 cash prize.

 


Hollins Authors to Contend for 2015 National Book Awards

A Hollins alumna and a current member of the university faculty are among the acclaimed authors who have been named to Longlists for this year’s National Book Awards.

Sally Mann ’74, M.A. ’75 is one of ten contenders for the 2015 National Book Award for Nonfiction. She has been nominated for her work, Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs. One of America’s most renowned photographers, Mann has previously received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Guggenheim Foundation. Her photographs are held by major institutions internationally. Her many books include Second Sight (1983), At Twelve (1988), Immediate Family (1992), Still Time (1994), What Remains (2003), Deep South (2005), Proud Flesh (2009), and The Flesh and the Spirit (2010).

Cited for her short-story collection Refund,  Distinguished Visiting Professor of Creative Writing Karen E. Bender is on the Longlist for the National Book Award for Fiction. She is the author of the novels Like Normal People and A Town of Empty Rooms, and her fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, Zoetrope, Ploughshares, Story, Harvard Review, The Iowa Review, and other magazines. She has won two Pushcart Prizes and grants from the Rona Jaffe Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. She has taught creative writing at Antioch University Los Angeles, the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and Tunghai University in Taiwan.

The National Book Award is one of the nation’s most prestigious literary prizes. Previous winners include Sherman Alexie, Louise Erdrich, Jonathan Franzen, Denis Johnson, James McBride, Joyce Carol Oates, and Adrienne Rich.

Finalists will be announced on October 14.

 


Two Prestigious “Best of” Lists for 2011 Feature Novel by Children’s Literature Program Director

whatwekeepThe director of Hollins University’s graduate program in children’s literature has received some impressive year-end recognition for her latest book.

Amanda Cockrell’s debut young-adult novel, What We Keep Is Not Always What Will Stay, has been acclaimed as one of the best books of the year for children by The Boston Globe, and has also been named to the Bulletin Blue Ribbons 2011 list from The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books.

In selecting What We Keep for the Globe’s review of the year’s most notable writing for young people, author Liz Rosenberg writes, “Cockrell balances on the knife’s edge between comedy and tragedy. The depth and darkness of her themes makes an absorbing read for older young adults.”

Geared toward readers ages 12 and up, What We Keep is the story of 15-year-old Angie, who falls for a 19-year-old Afghanistan veteran suffering from both physical and emotional trauma. The novel was published by Flux in July 2011.

Along with directing the graduate program in children’s literature at Hollins, Cockrell is managing editor of The Hollins Critic, the university’s literary journal. A native of Ojai, California, she also earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Hollins. Cockrell has published numerous essays, poems, and articles in addition to her novels The Legions of the Mist, The Moonshine Blade, The Deer Dancers trilogy, The Horse Catchers trilogy, and Pomegranate Seed. She has received fiction fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.