2018 Colorado Book Awards honors four CSU faculty and alumni

Story by Mary Ellen Sanger

“Colorado’s literary community, landscape, and people are deep in my heart — part of my DNA…”

Alumna Laura Pritchett’s words set the tone for the sweep of awards bestowed on CSU Department of English faculty and alumni when Colorado Humanities announced winners of the 2018 Colorado Book Awards on June 2.

According to the website of the Colorado Humanities, the Colorado Book Awards is an annual program that celebrates the accomplishments of Colorado’s outstanding authors, editors, illustrators and photographers.

CSU faculty and alumni won in four of the 14 categories. “The competition was fierce this year across multiple categories,” Program Coordinator Bess Maher said.

Faculty member Camille T. Dungy was nominated in the Creative Nonfiction category for A Guidebook to Relative Strangers: Journeys into Race, Motherhood, and History, and she won in the Poetry category for Trophic Cascade.

“What a thrill to be named a finalist in two categories this year and to win the Colorado Book award for poetry!” she said. “CSU has provided much-appreciated institutional support as I completed both of these books, and it was great to hear the names of my colleagues among the group of winners. Writing is so often a solitary occupation, so it is a joy to be able to celebrate this accomplishment with such an esteemed group of colleagues, writers, and readers.”

Todd Mitchell, alumnus and director of the Program in Creative Writing Pedagogy at CSU, was the winner in the Juvenile Literature category for The Last Panther, which he co-wrote with his daughter, pictured above.

“I wrote this book with my 10-year-old daughter, thinking about what story she’d enjoy most, and what stories aren’t being told right now that desperately need to be told,” he said. “Although my first goal is always to create a riveting narrative, it’s my hope that The Last Panther will inspire discussions of what can be done about the complex environmental and social issues that young people are inheriting. Ultimately, The Last Panther explores how even the youngest of us can make a lasting positive change in the world.”

Alumna Laura Pritchett won in the Literary Fiction category for The Blue Hour.

“My childhood was spent reading books on a ranch outside Fort Collins,” she said. “I grew up, moved away, came back, and started writing. So Colorado’s literary community, landscape, and people are deep in my heart — part of my DNA — and I’m so honored to be part of this great tradition.”

Stephanie G’Schwind, alumna, director of the Center for Literary Publishing and editor-in-chief of Colorado Review, won in the Anthology category for the edited collection Beautiful Flesh: A Body of Essays.

“Putting together an anthology is not unlike making a quilt: you have all these wonderful individual pieces you want to gather and arrange in a way that creates resonance among them as a whole,” she said. “I loved each of these essays and wanted to build a larger project from them — a body, both literal and figurative. The book assembles 20 essays, each focusing on a different body part, from head to foot. Together they speak of ability, acceptance, difference, curiosity, joy, pain, healing, and what it means to be a human being with a human body.”