The Maryland Author Award
Madison Smartt Bell
Madison Smartt Bell has been named as the recipient of the Maryland Library Association’s first annual Maryland Author Award. Bell, author of the highly acclaimed All Soul’s Rising, was recognized by the Association for his “body of work” which includes 10 books.
All Soul’s Rising, a monumental novel describing the Haitian slave rebellion of the 1790’s, garnered the 38-year-old Bell a National Book Award nomination. Two more books about Haiti are planned by Bell whose first Haitian novel covers only 10 years of the country’s history.
Bell has received several awards, including the Ward Mathis Prize for his short story Triptych (1977), the Andrew James Purdy Fiction Award from Hollins College, the Francis LeMoyne Page Award for fiction writing from Princeton (1978). His books include Barking Man & Other Stories, Dr. Sleep, Save Me, Joe Louis, Soldier’s Joy, Straight Cut, Waiting for the Endo f the World, Washington Square Ensemble, The Year of Silence, Zero db & Other Stories. The New York Times said “Madison Smartt Bell renders the marginal, the underground, the twisted or seedy with quirky attentiveness.” Of the Washington Square Ensemble, the LA Times said “[Bell] has that rarest of literary gifts: the ability to make word into flesh, to delineate compelling, vivid characters…. The reader is constantly rewarded by the dark poetry of a raw talent who orchestrates a mad symphony of contemporary outlaws.” The Times Literary Supplement noted that Bell’s “language is American at its best; lively and expressive, but always lucid and never merely distracting.
Mary Downing Hahn
Mary Downing Hahn, author of critically acclaimed books for children and young adults, is the recipient of the Maryland Library Association’s 1997 Author Award. Hahn, a Maryland resident since childhood, was cited for her distinctive style and fast-paced plots that are favorites at Maryland libraries. While working in the children’s department of the Laurel branch of the Prince George’s Country Memorial Library System, Mrs. Hahn wrote her first book for young adults, Sara Summer, published in 1979. Since then, Hahn’s books have won over fifty-three awards including the Scott O’Dell Award, the Hedda Seisler Mason Award, the ALA Reviewer’s Choice Award and the ALA Notable Book Award.
Works: Daphne’s Book, Dead Man in Indian Creek, December Stillness, Doll in the Garden, Following the Mystery Man, Gentleman Outlaw and Me Eli, Jellyfish Season, Look for Me by Moonlight, Sara Summer, Spanish Kidnapping Disaster, Stepping on the Cracks, Tallahassee Higgins, Time for Andrew, Time of the Witch, Wait Till Helen Comes: A Ghost Story, Wind Blows Backwards.
Spires’ books of poetry include Globe, Swan’s Island, Annonciade and Worlding; her poems have been widely published in magazines and anthologies. She has also written a children’s book, With One White Wing, and edited the Instant of Knowing: the Occasional Prose of Josephine Jacobsen. She is a graduate of Vassar College and the Writing Seminars of the Johns Hopkins University. In 1996 she was awarded the Whiting Prize, given annually since 1985 to emerging writers of exceptional talent and promise. Among many other honors, she has received the Academy of American Poets Prize in 1974, the Amy Lowell Travelling Poetry Scholarship at Harvard University in 1986, the Sarah Teasdale Poetry Award from Wellesley College in 1990, and a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in 1992. Spires has taught at a number of Maryland institutions and is currently writer-in-residence at Goucher College, a position she sharese with her husband Madison Smartt Bell. They live in Baltimore with their daughter Celia.
Tom Horton, currently a resident of Wicomico County, was born and raised on the Eastern Shore, distinguishing him as a most appropriate winner of this year’s MLA Maryland Author Award. His non-fiction books include Bay Country (1987); Swanfall: Journey of the Tundra Swans (1991); Turning of the Tide: Saving the Chesapeake Bay, with William Eichbaum (1991); Water’s Way: Life Along the Chesapeake, with David Harp (1992); and An Island Out of Time: A Memoir of Smith Island in the Chesapeake (1996).
A graduate of the Johns Hopkins University with a degree in economics, Mr. Horton has been an environmental reporter and columnist for the Baltimore Sun since 1976, with time out from 1987 to 1992 when he was an educator and writer for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. He has received many local and national awards, among them the National Wildlife Federation’s Conservation Communicator of the Year and the Scripps-Howard Meeman Award for the best conservation series; and, more recently, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s 1997 Conservationist of the Year and the 1997 David Brower Award for environmental reporting from the Sierra Club.
Variously described as a fine writer, a deft listener, a painter of the treasures of the Chesapeake and a wisecracking Thoreau, Tom Horton educates and inspires us all as he delivers his important message about living in harmony with our environment.
Alice McDermott, winner of the 2000 MLA Maryland Author Award, was a success from the start! Her first book, A Bigamist’s Daughter (1984), was featured on the front page of the New York Times Book Review. Her two subsequent novels, That Night (1987) and At Weddings and Wakes (1992) were finalists for Pulitzers, and her latest novel, Charming Billy, was winner f the 1998 National Book Award.
A Bethesda resident, where she lives with her husband and three children, Alice McDermott teaches creative writing at the Johns Hopkins University. A graduate of the State University of New York at Oswego and the graduate school of the University of New Hampshire, her professors marked her talent. After reading her first novel, a professor told her “I’ve got bad news you are a writer.” The professor called a friend who was in publishing, and so began an illustrious career.
Ms. McDermott is now working n two new novels, one of which is almost exclusively about women. “Women,” the author says, are “the people who take care of the old people and the young. They keep the domestic world moving.” The new novel is about motherhood, “about women’s lives from beginning to end.”
Jane Leslie Conly
Jane Leslie Conly, author of Crazy Lady, Trout Summer, What Happened on Planet Kid, and other works for children and young adults, is the recipient of the Maryland Library Association’s 2001 Maryland Author Award.
Ms. Conly has lived in Baltimore since 1973; she is married and the mother of two. She is a graduate of Smith College, and the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars program.
Her first book, Rasco and the Rats of NIMH, was the sequel to Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIHM written by her late father, Robert C. O’Brien. The sequel to this book, R-T, Margaret, and the Rats of NIHM, gained an Honorable Mention from Parenting’s Reading Magic Award. In 1994, Ms. Conly’s book, Crazy Lady, received a Newberry Honor Award. This story, rich with memorable characters and situations, was set in Baltimore, and depicts a young man’s struggle to be faithful to his own beliefs, and yet, fit in with “the crowd.”
Jane Leslie Conly’s writing has earned the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award Honor Book, ALA Notable Book, ALA Best Book for Young Adults, Bulletin Blue Ribbon and the NCTE Children’s Book in the Language Arts.
Daniel Mark Epstein
Daniel Mark Epstein is a poet, dramatist, and biographer with twelve books in print at Farrar Straus & Giroux, Harcourt, Holt, Overlook/Putnam, and W.W. Norton. His poetry has appeared in The Atlantic, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and is widely anthologized. His work has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Prix de Rome from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Epstein’s dramas have been staged in regional theaters and Off-Broadway, and in productions on National Public Radio. Jenny and the Phoenix premiered at Baltimore’s Theatre Project in 1977, and was later optioned by Joseph Papp for the Public Theatre; The Midnight Visitor was presented Off-Broadway in 1981, and The Leading Lady was produced as Theatre Hopkins in Baltimore in 1999.
His biography of Aimee Semple McPherson, Sister Aimee (Harcourt, Brace 1992) is in its third printing. In 1998 he published an acclaimed translation of Euripides’ play The Bacchae. Epstein’s biography of Nat King Cole was published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux and was a New York Times “notable book” of 1999. Most recently he published a biography of Edna St. Vincent Millay.
United Press International wrote of Daniel Mark Epstein, “The poet may be the most important literary figure to come out of Baltimore since H.L. Mencken.” The New Republic said, “He is centrally a love poet, and a splendid one, and advent most welcome on the landscape of 20th century literature.” Poet Richard Wilbur has praised his “artful openness and his power to touch the heart.”
William K. Klingaman
William K. Klingaman is a social historian and the author of more than a dozen books, including 1919: The Year Our World Began (St. Martin’s Press, 1987); 1929: The Year of the Great Crash (Harper Collins, 1991); and 1941: Our Lives in a World on the Edge (Harper Collins, 1988). The dramatic, pivotal years that are the subject of these works, along with his story-telling skills, make Klingaman’s histories read like novels. His Encyclopedia of the McCarthy Era (Facts on File, 1994) provides readers and researchers with a general overview of the most prominent personalities and issues of this controversial period in U.S. history. He has also written Turning 40: Wit, Wisdom and Whining (Plume, 1992) and Turning 50: Quotes, Lists, and Helpful Hints (Penguin, 1994).
Klingaman’s most recent work, Abraham Lincoln and the Road to Emancipation (Putnam, 2002) was acclaimed by Booklist as “an insightful narrative of Lincoln’s political evolution while president as pertaining to the question of what to do about slavery.” Library Journal finds it “tightly focused and engagingly written.” He is currently working on a history of Lincoln’s White House, exploring the interplay between Lincoln’s personal life and his presidency. This book will also be a social history of mid-nineteenth century America, examining contemporary attitudes on a wide range of topics, including marriage, manners, child-rearing, women’s rights, and spiritualism.
A native Marylander, Klingaman was born in Salisbury and now lives in Columbia. He received his BA from the University of Delaware and his PhD in American History from the University of Virginia. He previously worked in government, as a consultant, and as business history columnist for the Baltimore Sun and has appeared on the Today Show, NBC Nightly News, and the PBS series This is America. For the past ten years, Klingaman has been on the faculty of UMBC. He also teaches advanced placement course in U.S. History and English at Howard County’s Centennial High School, one of the top academic schools in the state.
Laura Lippman has won the Agatha, Anthony, Edgar, Nero, and Shamus awards, along with the Mayor’s Award for Literary Excellence, for various books in her Baltimore-based “Tess Monaghan” mystery series. She calls her books “valentines” to Baltimore. From the publication of the first book, Baltimore Blues (Avon, 1997), Lippman has been praised for her authentic and memorable portrayal of Baltimore, warts and all. Lippman has said that she tries to see something new each day. This attention to detail is evident in her vivid, sensory descriptions. Readers also enjoy Lippman’s sardonic wit and believable characters.
Three of Lippman’s early books, all mass market paperbacks, won two awards each. Elizabeth Pincus wrote in the Voice Literary Supplement, “There’s a pulpy little thrill in finding the best mystery writing around within the gaudy, palm-sized pages of a massmarket release.” Lippman’s first hardback, The Sugar House (Morrow, 2000), was listed as one of the best mystery novels of the year by The Washington Post and the London Times.
Every Secret Thing, published by Morrow in 2003, was a stand-alone novel that received praise for its psychological portrait of two young killers. Kirkus Reviews called it “lucid, tight, and compelling,” and Publishers Weekly lauded Lippman’s willingness to take risks in her writing.
Although she was born in Atlanta, Georgia, Lippman has lived in or near Baltimore for most of her life. She studied journalism at Northwestern University in Illinois, then lived in Texas for a few years while she wrote for the Waco Tribune-Herald and the San Antonio Light. Returning to Baltimore, she wrote for the Sun from 1989 until 2001. Her interests include eating, drinking, exercising, and eavesdropping.
Elizabeth Fitzgerald Howard
Elizabeth Fitzgerald Howard, author of ten picture books for children, is the recipient of the 2005 Maryland Author Award. Born in Baltimore, Howard recalls her Maryland roots in many of her books, including the much-loved Aunt Flossie’s Hats (and Crab Cakes Later).
Howard has been praised for her showcasing of strong intergenerational relationships and for her portrayal of African American families. For example, Flower Girl Butterflies tells the story of a reluctant young flower girl who comes to embrace her role after interaction with her extended family. In Papa Tells Chita a Story, the author shows a loving relationship between a father and daughter.
Howard also follows a pattern of writing about what she knows, as her books share stories from her own family. Virgie Goes to School with Us Boys shares the story of her grandfather’s family living in the Reconstruction South and in The Train to Lulu’s, Howard recalls trips she and her sister took to Baltimore as children to visit their Aunt Lulu. Aunt Flossie and Chita are other beloved family members who come alive in Howard’s books.
Before she began writing, Howard was a children’s librarian and professor of children’s literature and library science. She received her M.L.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh and taught library science both there and at West Virginia University.
Her books have won various awards including an ALA Notable Book citation, Parents’ Choice and Teachers’ Choice Awards from the International Reading Association, and a Coretta Scott King Honor Award. The author was raised in Boston and currently lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with her husband.
Edward Reed Whittemore, II
Edward Reed Whittemore is a poet, essayist, and emeritus professor of English at the University of Maryland. Before coming to the University of Maryland in 1967, he taught at Carleton College and Princeton University. As an editor of Furioso and the Carleton Miscellany, and as a professor and biographer, Mr. Whittemore has been influential in the course of shaping American language for more than forty years.
Mr. Whittemore was the Poet Laureate of Maryland from 1985 until 1988 and a Library of Congress Consultant in Poetry in 1964-65 and 1984-85. In March of this year, he read his poems at an evening presentation at the Library of Congress. Whittemore has received the Harriet Monroe Prize (1954), the Emily Clark Balch Prize (1962), the National Council on the Arts Award (1968), and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award of Merit (1971).
Mr. Whittemore’s first collection of poems was titled Heroes and Heroines (1946). He has published thirteen volumes of poetry, his latest being The Past, the Future, the Present (1990). He has also written biographies, essays, stories, and criticism in such books as Fascination of Abomination (1963), William Carlos Williams: Poet from Jersey (1975), Whole Lives: Shapers of Modern Biography (1989), and Six Literary Lives (1993). A memoir, tentatively entitled Reed Whittemore, A Poet’s Literary Life, will be published this fall.
The Civil Rights era in our nation’s history was a time of sorrow and triumph, despair and hope. One of America’s chief chroniclers of that turbulent time is Taylor Branch. Collectively entitled America in the King Years, his trilogy of histories begins with the Pulitzer Prize-winning Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-63 (1988), continues with Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years, 1963-65 (1998), and concludes with At Canaan’s Edge: American in the King Years, 1965-68 (2006).
The trilogy sweeps readers through that time of enormous change, when courage and tenacity and a sense of justice would lead African-Americans to the rich rewards of equity in a land whose principles rest on equality and justice for all. At Canaan’s Edge was a finalist for the National Book Award in nonfiction.
Branch is the author of numerous writings beyond his trilogy, including a work of fiction, The Empire Blues (1981), and other co-authored works, including Labyrinth (with Eugene Propper), Second Wind (with Bill Russell), Blind Ambition (ghostwritten for John Dean), and Blowing the Whistle (with Charles Peters). He has also written for numerous publications, including The New York Times Magazine, The New Republic, Esquire, and Harpers.
Mr. Branch has won many awards for his work, including a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 1991 and a National Humanities Medal in 1999. Parting the Waters earned him a Pulitzer Prize in History (1988), the Book Critics Circle Award (1988), and the English-Speaking Union Book Award (1989). In addition, this book was a National Book Award finalist for non-fiction. In 1999, Pillar of Fire garnered the American Bar Association Silver Gavel Award, the Imus Book Award, and the Sidney Hillman Book Award. Most recently, At Canaan’s Edge received the Chicago Tribune’s Heartland Prize for non-fiction. Branch also received the Search for Common Ground Award at the United Nations in November 2006.
Born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1947, Taylor Branch attended the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, graduating in 1968. He earned an M.P.A. from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. In addition to writing, he has served as editor on several periodicals and was also a lecturer at Goucher College in Towson. He currently lives in Baltimore with his wife and children.
Marita Golden has distinguished herself as a novelist, nonfiction writer, teacher of writing and literary institution builder. Her books, many of which have been used widely in African American, Women's Studies and Literature Courses include the memoirs Migrations of the Heart, Saving Our Sons and Don't Play in the Sun: One Woman's Journey Through the Color Complex as well as the novels Long Distance Life, The Edge of Heaven and most recently After, which was honored by both the NAACP Image Award and the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. As a literary institution builder she co-founded both the African American Writers Guild and the Hurston/Wright Foundation. As a teacher of writing she has held positions at George Mason University, Virginia Commonwealth University and currently serves as Writer in Residence at the University of the District of Columbia. Among the awards Marita Golden has received in recognition of her writing career and her work as a literary activist are the 2002 Distinguished Service Award from the Authors Guild and the 2001 Barnes and Noble Writers for Writers Award presented by Barnes and Noble. She has spoken a colleges and universities in the U.S. and abroad and has been a guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show as well as ABC's Primetime Live. Marita Golden lives with her husband in Mitchellville, Maryland.
Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Phyllis Reynolds Naylor is a prolific author of fiction and nonfiction for children, teens, and adults. She is perhaps best known as the author of Shiloh, which won the Newbery Medal in 1992, and for the Alice series. In writing about young adults, she displays strong empathy for their concerns and understanding of their feelings. Critics hail her ability to create believable, appealing characters and to write from a young person's point of view. Taken as a whole, Naylor's writings are notable for their great diversity, ranging from books about her own life, to fiction exploring contemporary problems facing young people. Naylor enjoys the change of pace that comes with varying her subjects and writing for different audiences. "I can never imagine myself writing only for children or only for adults," she commented. "I like to follow up a mystery story for the nine-to-twelve set with a contemporary novel for adults; after that perhaps I will do a picture book or a realistic novel for teens, or possibly a humorous book for children. The marvelous thing about writing is that I may play the part of so many different people--an old grandmother on one page, a young boy the next; a middle-aged man or a girl of fifteen. I feel most whole when I can look at a scene through the eyes of several different people."
She lives with her husband, Rex, in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and is the mother of two sons, both grown and married. She keeps up with readers of the Alice series on her blog, alicemckinley.wordpress.com.
Sue Ellen Thompson
Sue Ellen Thompson is a graduate of Middlebury College, Vermont (B.A.) and The Bread Loaf School of English (M.A.). Her first book of poems, This Body of Silk, was awarded the 1986 Samuel French Morse Prize (judge: X. J. Kennedy) and was published by Northeastern University Press. A second volume, The Wedding Boat, was published in 1995 by Owl Creek Press in Seattle. A third volume, The Leaving: New and Selected Poems, was published by Autumn House Press and nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 2001. A fourth volume, The Golden Hour, appeared in June 2006 and was also nominated for a Pulitzer. Her work has been included in the Best American Poetry series, read on National Public Radio by Garrison Keillor, and featured in U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser’s nationally syndicated newspaper column. She recently edited The Autumn House Anthology of Contemporary American Poetry.
Ms. Thompson was the 1982 National Arts Club Scholar in Poetry and the 1987 Robert Frost Fellow at the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference in Vermont. She has given readings at the National Arts Club in New York, the Hirshhorn Museum, and the Library of Congress as well as at the Aran Islands Poetry Festival in Galway, Ireland. Ms. Thompson spent the summer of 1998 as resident poet at The Frost Place in Franconia, New Hampshire, and has taught at Wesleyan University, Middlebury College, Binghamton University, and Central Connecticut State University. She currently lives in Oxford, MD and teaches at The Writer's Center in Bethesda.
Mark Bowden is a best-selling author and journalist. His book Black Hawk Down, a finalist for the National Book Award, was the basis of the film of the same name. His book Killing Pablo won the Overseas Press Club’s 2001 Cornelius Ryan Award as the book of the year. His most recent books, both bestsellers, are Guests of the Ayatollah, an account of the 1979 Iran hostage crisis, listed by Newsweek as one of “The 50 Books for Our Times,” and The Best Game Ever, the story of the 1958 NFL championship game won by the Baltimore Colts over the New York Giants. He is a contributing editor to Vanity Fair, and a national correspondent for The Atlantic. Mark has received The Abraham Lincoln Literary Award and the International Thriller Writers’ “True Thriller Award” for lifetime achievement, and served as a judge for the National Book Awards in 2005.
He is a 1973 graduate of Loyola University Maryland, where he taught from 2001 until 2010. A reporter and columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer for more than 30 years, Bowden now teaches journalism at the University of Delaware and lives in Oxford, Pennsylvania. He is married with five children and two granddaughters.