Winner, 2013 Library of Virginia Poetry Award


Library of Virginia Literary Awards--Here's the story!

What a lovely event.  Stayed at the beautiful Linden Row Inn in Richmond, gave a reading at Chop Suey Books in Carytown on Friday.  On Saturday morning at breakfast happened to run into writer and editor Clifford Garstang, later announced as Fiction winner, and historian Michael Nichols, who turned out to be the winner in Non-Fiction.  Amazin...g coincidence. 

The whole day was a peaceful and beautiful high, and all of it shared with husband and son, my solid rock and my shining star.  Got to know the fine poet and gentleman David Huddle, whom I have met a few times and admired at a distance since first seeing him at Bread Loaf in 1986.  It was pure delight to share the James River Writers Conference Poetry Panel with him!  Much appreciation also to panel MC Jay Paul of Christopher Newport University for his passionate and insightful grasp of the work.  At the book signing after the awards luncheon, I thoroughly enjoyed exchanging lore with Joe Jackson, fellow University of Arkansas-Fayetteville MFA and finalist in Non-fiction.

The Library of Virginia does a beautiful job of orchestrating this event, with gorgeous accommodations, the very tangible tokens of medals and crystal books along with the monetary award, and the glorious dinner and presentation ceremony.  The tables were lit with large luminaries of each book cover, and the covers were also constantly cycling across the big screen backdrop of the stage.  Everything was pure elegance, down to the pyramids of butter balls and the chocolate book stuffed with bread pudding for desert, a facsimile of Charles Wright's Selected Late Poems--he received the lifetime Achievement Award.  Seated at our table were the parents of Kevin Powers, whose novel The Yellow Birds about his Army experience in Iraq was a finalist in fiction as well as for the People's Choice Awards.  Also sharing dinner with us were three members of the Library of Virginia Foundation Board, siblings Hugo Owens Jr., Patrice Owens Parker, and Paula Owens Parker--delightful company!  To receive my award, I wore an antique crochet dress pulled from an ancestor's trunk when I was a teenager.

The complex selection process for the Library of Virginia Awards, which includes juries and a voting public, lends a democratic sheen.  I felt both honored and humbled, and it was just the best fun.  The next morning we had another great breakfast chat with the amazingly gifted and gracious Lee Smith and her husband--perfect finale to a fantastic celebration.

Heartfelt thanks to the Library of Virginia, the James River Writers Conference, and everyone who shared the camaraderie and the glory!