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2006 Writing Awards

PUBLISHED: January 16, 2007

Honoring the best writing to appear in its pages in the past year, the Virginia Quarterly Review today announced the winners of its annual writing prizes for 2006:

The Emily Clark Balch Prize for Poetry:
Susan B. A. Somers-Willett for “Darwin Strikes a Match,” “First Sex,” and “My Natural History” (Spring 2006 issue)
Susan B. A. Somers-Willett is the author of a book of poetry, Roam, selected for the Crab Orchard Award Series in 2006. Previous honors include the Ann Stanford Poetry Prize and the Robert Frost Poetry Award as well as fellowships from the Millay Colony and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. She is currently a visiting faculty fellow at Carnegie Mellon University’s Center for the Arts in Society.

The Emily Clark Balch Prize for Short Fiction:
Binyavanga Wainaina for “Ships in High Transit” (Winter 2006 issue)
Binyavanga Wainaina, a native of Kenya, is the founding editor of Africa’s leading literary magazine, Kwani? He has written for Chimurenga, National Geographic, Granta, Tin House, and the New York Times. His first book, a travel memoir about Kenya, will be published in 2008 by Graywolf Press in the US and Granta Books in the UK. He is currently the visiting writer at Union College in Schenectady, NY.

Dan Chaon for “Shepherdess” (Fall 2006 issue)
Dan Chaon is the author of a novel, You Remind Me of Me, and two story collections, Fitting Ends and Among the Missing, a finalist for the National Book Award and a New York Times Notable Book. He is the Irving E. Houck Associate Professor of the Humanities at Oberlin College.

The Staige D. Blackford Prize for Nonfiction:
J. Malcolm Garcia for “
Descent into Haiti” (Spring 2006 issue)
J. Malcolm Garcia is a freelance journalist. His dispatch from Afghanistan, “Curfew,” in the Spring 2004 issue of VQR was named a notable essay of the year by Best American Travel Writing. His work has also appeared in Mother Jones, the Chicago Tribune, the San Francisco Chronicle, and Knight Ridder newspapers.

Dimiter Kenarov for “The Little Box that Contains the World” (Summer 2006 issue)
Dimiter Kenarov’s first book of poems (in Bulgarian) received the Yuzhna Prolet/Literaturen Vestnik Award in 2001 for best debut by a young writer. Most recently, he translated the selected poems of Elizabeth Bishop into Bulgarian. He is a first-year PhD student in English Literature at the University of California, Berkeley.

The Emily Clark Balch Prizes for short story and poetry were established in 1955. Past recipients include Wendell Berry, John Berryman, Hayden Carruth, Carolyn Forché, Donald Hall, Mary Oliver, and May Sarton. The Staige D. Blackford Prize for nonfiction is named for the seventh editor of VQR and was established after his retirement in 2003 after guiding the magazine for 28 years. Each prize includes a monetary award of $1,000.

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