The Vermont College of Fine Arts is hosting the first Vermont Book Award this year. Judges announced the six finalists in the running for the inaugural honor – and the $5,000 prize – Thursday.
The new prize was created to honor artists with deep connections to the state of Vermont, and to draw attention to a state so uniquely suited for creative enterprise. To be considered for the prize a book had to be penned by a Vermont author or take place in Vermont or be published by a Vermont press.
While there will only be one winner, books from the following categories are considered for the award: poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction and children’s literature.
Judges looked at nearly 50 books to narrow down to the six finalists:
- Poetry: Kerrin McCadden of Plainfield, Landscape with Plywood Silhouettes
- Poetry: Leland Kinsey of Barton, Winter Ready
- Young Adult literature: Dana Walrath of Underhill, Like Water on Stone
- Young Adult literature: Meg Wolitzer, Bell Jar, takes place in Vermont
- Creative nonfiction: Jessica Hendry Nelson of Winooski, If Only You People Could Follow Directions
- Fiction: Gary Lee Miller from Montepelier, Museum of the Americas, a collection of short stories
The winner will be announced in September.
The idea for the Vermont Book Award comes from Vermont College of Fine Arts president Tom Greene, says Miciah Bay Gault, the Vermont Book Award coordinator and VCFA’s director of MFA in writing and publishing.
“We have such a rich literary culture in Vermont. There should be a major literary prize as well,” says Bay Gault.
Books were selected by a special nominating committee, made up of the Independent Booksellers of Vermont, and chaired by Claire Benedict of Bear Pond Books in Montpelier. Publishers could also nominate books.