Two Tucsonans are among the nine top finishers in the 2015 Tucson Festival of Books Literary Awards. The book fest will be held March 12-13 on the University of Arizona campus.
Tucsonans Melissa Goodrich led the fiction category and Melani Martinez nabbed third place for nonfiction. In addition, Laura Apol of East Lansing, Michigan, earned first and second places in the poetry category and Dawn-Michelle Baude of Las Vegas, Nevada, was judged best of the nonfiction entries. (See adjacent list of top winners.)
The competition pays out more than $5,000 in prize money across the fiction, nonfiction and poetry categories. Each first-place finisher receives $1,000, an invitation to appear at the book festival, and a scholarship to the masters workshop, which will follow the festival, March 14-15 at the UA Poetry Center. This is the fourth year the festival has sponsored a writing competition and a high-level workshop.
There were 473 entries from nearly every state in the country, with many coming from the East Coast, and from other countries including Switzerland, Canada, Greece, Scotland and Kenya,” said Meg Files, who directs the awards and workshop programs.
Final judges were Luis Alberto Urrea for poetry, Bryn Chancellor for nonfiction and Joshua Mohr, fiction. A team of well-published and respected Tucson writers were the preliminary judges.
In the poetry category, the first- and second-place winner’s submissions were first selected by two preliminary judges (Jane Miller and Tyler Meier) and judged blind by the final judge, Files said.
The three final judges join Lynn Cullen and David Gessner as the five faculty members of the masters workshop, said Files, who is head of English and journalism at Pima Community College-West.
“Many, many of this contest’s entries are top notch, coming from writers with significant awards and publications,” Files said.
“Luis Alberto Urrea said the submissions blew his mind and Bryn Chancellor said there were so many fantastic stories that she had a hard time narrowing the winners’ list to three,” said Files.
“Joshua Mohr said, ‘Wow, there was a lot of talent to ponder,’ ” Files said.
The masters workshop, limited to the top 50 who submitted to the writing competition, will be organized as past workshops. The top 50 entrants also are invited to attend the workshop, during which authors give “craft lectures” addressing creative writing technique, and the participants’ work is read and critiqued by a master author and a group of nine peers.
The contest and workshop were added to the festival in 2013 to expand its focus, add an emphasis on writing as well as reading, and bring prestige to the festival.