The 2nd Annual Vermont Book Award

Vermont Book Award logo

The Vermont Book Award Gala

Saturday, September 24th

Vermont College of Fine Arts Alumni Hall

To purchase your tickets, click here.




VCFA_logo_print (3)Vermont College of Fine Arts will host the second annual Vermont Book Award Gala on September 24, 2016. In keeping with our mission of promoting emerging and established artists, the Vermont Book Award will recognize outstanding poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction and children’s literature penned by either a Vermont writer or a writer with deep ties to the state of Vermont.

The Vermont Book Award is a prize that honors artists with deep connections to the state of Vermont and draws attention to a state so uniquely suited for creative enterprise. The nine 2016 finalists are:

Children’s literature:

Knowles Headshot-BBF

Jo Knowles

Jo Knowles, Read Between the Lines: Does anyone ever see us for who we really are? This Young Adult novel of interlocking stories peers behind the scrim as it follows nine teens and one teacher through a seemingly ordinary day.





Tamara Ellis Smith

Tamara Ellis Smith, Another Kind of Hurricane: In this stunning debut novel for middle grade readers two very different characters—a black boy who loses his home in Hurricane Katrina and a white boy in Vermont who loses his best friend in a tragic accident—come together to find healing.





David Huddle

David Huddle, Dream Sender: An account of spiritual survival through the practice of literary art, the poems in Dream Sender move among a variety of poetic forms and voices.






Major Jackson

Major Jackson, Roll Deep: This breakthrough volume evokes the vernacular notion of “rolling deep” to explore human intimacy and conflict with masterful musicality.





Julia Shipley

Julia Shipley

Julia Shipley, Academy of Hay: This debut collection lingers in the liminal spaces where transition and connection occur. Academy of Hay delivers a feminist response to our world straight from the earth.





Creative nonfiction:

Sean Prentiss

Sean Prentiss

Sean Prentiss, Finding Abbey: When the great environmental writer Edward Abbey died in 1989, four of his friends buried him secretly in a hidden desert spot that no one would ever find. This book follows the author, who went looking for Abbey’s grave, combining an account of his quest with a creative biography of Abbey.





Castle Freeman

Castle Freeman, Devil in the Valley: Placed in the classic setting of rural Vermont, this novel tells a story of temptation and greed and explores what we’re willing to trade to obtain the things we most desire. It’s a memorable story that explores the supernatural while staying rooted deeply in our world.



Jeffrey Lent

Jeffrey Lent

Jeffrey Lent, Slant of Light: At the close of the Civil War, a weary veteran returns to his home in western New York State to find his wife and hired man missing and his farm in disrepair. A double murder ensues, the repercussions of which ripple through a community with spiritual roots in the Second Great Awakening.




Jennifer McMahon

Jennifer McMahon

Jennifer McMahon, The Night Sister: This novel is an atmospheric, gripping and suspenseful tale that probes the bond between sisters and the peril of keeping secrets.





A panel of seven esteemed judges developed this shortlist of books and will decide on one winner. The winning book may be in any category. This year’s judges are:

  • An Na:
    An Na

    An Na

    • An Na was born in South Korea and grew up in San Diego, California. She is the author of three novels,A Step from Heaven, Wait for Me and The Fold. The Middle Place, a forthcoming young adult novel will be published by Atheneum under Caitlyn Dlouhy Books. Her awards and honors include the Michael L. Printz Award, International Reading Association Award, National Book Award Finalist, ALA Best Books for Young Adults, New York Times Book Review Notable, and Junior Library Guild Selection. She lives in Vermont.
  • Carolyn Kuebler:
    • Carolyn Kuebler

      Carolyn Kuebler

      Carolyn Kuebler is the editor of New England Review. Before coming to NER as managing editor in 2004, she was an associate editor at Library Reviewand founding editor of Rain Taxi Review of Books. She began her work in publishing as an intern at Milkweed Editions in Minneapolis, served briefly as marketing director at Dalkey Archive Press, then worked as a bookseller at the Hungry Mind in Saint Paul. Carolyn has published dozens of book reviews, as well as small-press profiles and author interviews, in publications such as Publishers Weekly,Review of Contemporary Fiction, Rain Taxi, and City Pages. Her essay on literary magazines is included in The Little Magazine of Contemporary America (University of Chicago Press), and “Literary Magazines in Context: A Historical Perspective” appears on the CLMP website. Her fiction has been published in the Common, Copper Nickel, Conduit, and Sleeping Fish, and she is currently working on some stories and a novel. At Middlebury College, she has taught a course in Literary Magazine Publishing and advises students on creative writing and publishing projects. She has an MFA from Bard College and a BA from Middlebury College.

  • Kekla Magoon
    • Kekla Magoon

      Kekla Magoon

      Kekla Magoon is an award-winning author of over a dozen novels and non-fiction books for young readers, includingHow It Went Down, The Rock and the River, Camo Girl, 37 Things I Love, andX: A Novel (with Ilyasah Shabazz). She has received a Coretta Scott King Honor, a CSK/John Steptoe New Talent Award, and three NAACP Image Award nominations. Her books have been selected as ALA Notable Books for Children, YALSA Best Books for Young Adults, Kirkus Reviews Best Books of the Year, CNN’s Most Anticipated Books, and much more. Kekla serves on the Writers Council for the National Writing Project. She conducts school and library visits nationwide and teaches writing at Vermont College of Fine Arts.

  • Jessica Hendry Nelson
    • Jessica Nelson

      Jessica Hendry Nelson

      Jessica Hendry Nelson is the author of If Only You People Could Follow Directions (Counterpoint Press, February 2014), which was selected as a best debut book by the Indies Introduce New Voices program, the Indies Next List by the American Booksellers’ Association, and named a Best Book of 2014 by Kirkus Review. Her work has appeared in The Threepenny Review, The Carolina Quarterly, Columbia Journal, Crab Orchard Review, PANK,The Rumpus, Drunken Boat and elsewhere, and named a ‘Notable’ listing in Best American Essays 2012. She teaches writing at Burlington College, Champlain College, and the low-residency MFA program at the University of Nebraska in Omaha. She serves as the Managing & Nonfiction editor of Green Mountains Review.

  • Elizabeth Powell
    • Elizabeth Powell

      Elizabeth Powell

      Elizabeth Powell is the author of The Republic of Self, a New Issue First Book Prize winner, selected by C.K. Williams. Her second book of poems,Willy Loman’s Reckless Daughter: Living Truthfully Under Imaginary Circumstances won the 2015 Anhinga Robert Dana Prize, selected by Maureen Seaton. Her work has appeared in the Pushcart Prize Anthology 2013, Alaska Quarterly Review, Barrow Street,Ecotone, Harvard Review, Indiana Review, Missouri Review,Mississippi Review, Slope, Sugarhouse Review, Ploughshares,Post Road, Zocalo Public Square, and elsewhere. She is Editor of Green Mountains Review, and Associate Professor of Creative Writing at Johnson State College. She also serves on the faculty of the low-residency MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. She lives in Vermont.

  • Ryan Walsh
    • Ryan Walsh

      Ryan Walsh

      Ryan Walsh grew up in West Virginia. He is author of the chapbooks Reckoner(Chickadee Chaps & Broads, 2015) and The Sinks (winner of the 2010 Mississippi Valley Poetry Chapbook Contest). His poems have appeared in Blackbird,Ecotone, FIELD, Forklift, Ohio, Narrative, and elsewhere. He is currently the Writing Program Director at the Vermont Studio Center and lives in Burlington, VT.

  • Mitch Wertlieb
    • Mitch Wertlieb

      Mitch Wertlieb

      Mitch Wertlieb is the local host NPR’s Morning Edition. A graduate of NYU with a Master’s Degree in journalism, Mitch has more than 20 years’ experience in radio news. He got his start as News Director at NYU’s college station, and moved on to a News Director (and part-time DJ position) for commercial radio station WMVY on Martha’s Vineyard. But public radio was where Mitch wanted to be and he eventually moved on to Boston where he worked for six years in a number of different capacities at member station WBUR…as a Senior Producer, Editor, and fill-in co-host of the nationally distributed Here and Now. Mitch has been a guest host of the national NPR sports program “Only A Game” and also worked as an editor and producer for international news coverage with Monitor Radio in Boston.

Join us for the Vermont Book Award Gala ceremony and dinner on Saturday, September 24, 2016. The winner of the Vermont Book Award will be revealed at the ceremony, which will be a lively celebration of literature and creative culture with distinguished guests from around the state. Music, dinner, readings by finalists and a keynote speech by a literary luminary are among the events planned for this exciting evening.

To purchase your tickets, click here.