>National Award for Arts Writing

>I received this press release today from the Arts Club of Washington today. It looks like an amazing new award and the finalists sound wonderful.

Arts Club of Washington to Announce First Book to Win Unique $15,000 Award at Reception April 19, 2007

The Arts Club of Washington will announce the winner of the inaugural National Award for Arts Writing at a reception at the Club, 2017 I Street, NW, Washington, DC, on April 19, 2007, 5:30-7 pm. The Award of $15,000, the only one of its kind in the country, will be given annually in recognition of excellence in writing about the arts for a broad audience. The Club is inaugurating the Award by considering books published in 2006. The winning book will be chosen from among three finalists currently under consideration by a panel of judges.

The distinguished judges for the 2006 Award are novelist and NPR book critic Alan Cheuse, former Poet Laureate Rita Dove, and novelist Joyce Carol Oates. The books chosen as finalists are varied in subject matter and approach, and three artistic disciplines are represented. The judges’ decision will be announced at the April 19 reception and the Award will be presented to the winning author at an Awards Dinner to be held at the Club on Friday, May 18.

The National Award in Arts Writing is given annually by the Arts Club of Washington in recognition of excellence in writing about the arts for a broad audience. The Award is given to the author of a book about any artistic discipline published in the previous year. Intended to help increase access to the arts, the Award celebrates prose that is lucid, luminous, clear, and inspiring – writing that creates a strong connection with arts and artists. The Award of $15,000 was established by long-time Arts Club member Jeannie S. Marfield in honor of Florence Berryman and Helen Wharton.

About the finalists:

James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon by Julie Phillips
An exemplary biography of Alice B. Sheldon, who disguised her identity and wrote popular science fiction as James Tiptree, Jr. (St. Martin’s Press)

The Judgment of Paris: The Revolutionary Decade That Gave the World Impressionism by Ross King
A gripping account of the critical decade of 1863 to 1874, focusing on two very different artists: the conservative Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissonier and the controversial Edouard Manet. (Walker & Co.)

Steel Drivin’ Man: John Henry: The Untold Story of an American Legend by Scott Reynolds Nelson
A fascinating social and musical history of the American work song, told through an investigation of one of its best-known songs, “John Henry.” (Oxford University Press)

About the judges:

The three judges are distinguished literary professionals. Alan Cheuse is the author of three novels, three collections of short fiction, a memoir, a pair of novellas, and a collection of essays. He is the editor of several anthologies. Cheuse serves as book commentator for NPR’s evening news-magazine All Things Considered and as a member of the writing faculty at the Squaw Valley Community of Writers. He is a professor of creative writing at George Mason University.

Rita Dove served as U.S. Poet Laureate from 1993 to 1995 and as Poet Laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia from 2004 to 2006. She has received numerous literary and academic honors, among them the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, the Duke Ellington Lifetime Achievement Award, and the National Humanities Medal. She is the author of numerous collections of poetry, a novel, a collection of short fiction, a collection of essays, and a play.

Joyce Carol Oates is a recipient of the National Book Award and the PEN/Malamud Award. She is the author of more than 70 books including novels, short story collections, poetry volumes, plays, and essays. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University and since 1978 has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2003 she received the Commonwealth Award for Distinguished Service in Literature.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Kim Roberts (202) 882-7662

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