WCSU M.F.A. in Creative and Professional Writing launches Housatonic Book Awards

DANBURY, CONN. — In March, the Western Connecticut State University Master of Fine Arts in Creative and Professional Writing program launched the first Housatonic Book Awards in cooperation with the M.F.A. Alumni Writers' Cooperative (AWC). The awards will honor one recipient each in the areas of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, writing for middle grades and young adults, and professional writing. Any author, publisher or literary agent may nominate a title in any of the five genres before the June 15 deadline.

The mission of the awards is to promote excellent writing, to identify authors who serve as professional role models for writing students, and to develop the WCSU M.F.A. in Creative and Professional Writing program scholarship fund. According to Ron Samul, president of the AWC, the awards will carry benefits beyond the three-part mission. “We are happy to help build our new scholarship fund, which will support students in the M.F.A. program financially and help to build enrollment,” he said. “It is also important that the awards will bring five excellent writers to Danbury each year for public appearances.”

Recipients of the awards will appear on the WCSU campus in January and August during the M.F.A. program’s residency periods, according to M.F.A. Coordinator Brian Clements. “The awards will continue the M.F.A. program’s tradition of bringing excellent authors to Danbury,” said Clements, “but we expect these awards to go quickly beyond local interest and achieve national prestige. The Housatonic Book Awards will become an annual event of wide appeal to readers, authors and publishers, similar to the American Book Awards or National Book Awards.” The recipient in each category will receive $1,500 and will conduct a workshop with M.F.A. students.

The awards were conceived this year after the formation of the new M.F.A. alumni group in January. The AWC and the M.F.A. program will oversee the awards and select the winners, following the Ethical Guidelines of the Council of Literary Magazines and Publishers. The deadline for nominations is Sunday, June 15. The AWC will select finalists, and recipients of the awards will be announced in October.

Nomination guidelines are available at http://housatonicbookawards.wordpress.com/.

For more information, contact Cara Petitti at (203) 837-8878 or petitti004@connect.wcsu.edu.


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