James Duval Phelan Award – Allison Benis White of Irvine, CA
(SAN FRANCISCO) – October 27, 2008
WHAT: Readings by 2008 Jackson and Phelan Literary Award Winners
Kelly Luce & Allison Benis White and 2003 Phelan Award winner
Tim Z. Hernandez, author of Skin Tax
WHEN: Tuesday November 18, 2008 at 7:30 PM
WHERE: Intersection for the Arts, 446 Valencia Street (btwn 15th St & 16th St)
Mission District, San Francisco
The distinguished Joseph Henry Jackson and James Duval Phelan Literary Awards, sponsored by The San Francisco Foundation and administered by Intersection for the Arts since 1991, are offered annually to encourage young writers (20 to 35 years old), who are either California-born or currently residing in Northern California or Nevada with an unpublished manuscript-in-progress. 2008 marks the 51st annual Jackson Award and the 71st annual Phelan Award. In addition to $4,000 cash awards for each of the two awards, award-winning manuscripts will be permanently housed at UC Berkeley’s Bancroft Library. Each of the 2008 award winners will read from their award-winning manuscripts. These awards have proven to be instrumental in the career of young writers, many of whom have gone on to securing either literary agents or publishing contracts as a result of these awards. To illustrate the concrete relationship between these awards and their impact on future publication opportunities, 2003 Phelan Award winner Tim Z. Hernandez, whose poetry manuscript Skin Tax went on to be published by Heyday Books in 2004 and which received the 2006 American Book Award, will also be reading from new work.
165 manuscripts of fiction (novels and short stories), poetry, nonfictional prose, graphic novel, and drama were submitted to the awards. This year’s competition was judged by Persis M. Karim, Toni Mirosevich, and giovanni singleton.
About the Winners:
Kelly Luce is the winner of the 2008 Danahy Fiction Prize from Tampa Review, and has published fiction in North American Review, The Gettysburg Review, Fourteen Hills, Opium, Nimrod, and Alimentum. Her work has also been recognized by a fellowship to the MacDowell Colony and a residency at Devil’s Tower National Monument. Originally from Chicago, she worked for two years in Japan. She now lives in the Santa Cruz mountains, where she divides her time between writing and trying to start fires in her wood stove. She can be found online at Crazy Pete’s Blotter.
We honor Kelly Luce’s 2008 Joseph Henry Jackson Award winning fiction manuscript, “Ms. Yamada’s Toaster” for:
The three short stories that comprise Kelly Luce’s fiction manuscript, “Ms. Yamada’s Toaster,” are engaging feats of imagination and awakening. In the collection’s title story, divinity becomes as accessible as a toasted piece of bread. “Cram Island” takes karaoke to a place beyond song while the last and longest story, “Rooey,” maps intricate social and emotional terrain. Each narrative effectively challenges commonly held beliefs and raises important questions about the multi-layered relationship between life and death. As if “working a jigsaw puzzle in the dark,” Luce masterfully threads ordinariness through a focused lens, be it a street, an alley, or a beer bottle, with captivating results. A fusion of magic and reality dramatically expands the possibilities of our human existence. These stories do not end with their last sentences but rather they are a shore from which the reader sets sail on a journey of transformation. And it is truly “a marvel for anyone who care(s) to look.” – 2008 Panel of Judges: Persis M. Karim, Toni Mirosevic,h & giovanni singleton
Allison Benis White’s poems have appeared in The Iowa Review, Ploughshares, and Pleiades, among other journals. Her awards include the Indiana Review Poetry Prize, the Bernice Slote Award from Prairie Schooner, and a Writers Exchange Award from Poets & Writers. Her full-length manuscript, Self-Portrait with Crayon, recently received the 2008 Cleveland State University Poetry Center First Book Award, and is forthcoming in spring 2009. She is currently at work on a second manuscript, Small Porcelain Head, and she teaches as a lecturer in the English Department at the University of California, Irvine.
We honor Allison Benis White’s 2008 James Duval Phelan Award winning poetry manuscript, “Small Porcelain Head” for:
In Allison Benis White’s “Small Porcelain Head” the panel of judges found a seamless cycle of poems that employ the figure of the doll – as emblem, as childhood nostalgia, as subject/object for the human figure, as locus for attachment, detachment, and the careful way one learns to love and to see one’s own human frailties in another. Benis White’s poetry engages her reader by simultaneously holding both the physical and the abstract in language that is deceptively simple and beautifully complex:
After our fingers, we put our mouths to the pain–a ceramic tongue broken off like chalk.
As a child, I pressed my tongue to my wrist to see what it would be like to feel someone.
What should I do with my mind? Think of the way it broke until breaking is language.
Benis White employs a fresh poetic voice, at once experimental and still accessible, giving a sense of openness and possibility. “Small Porcelain Head” was unanimously selected as the 2008 James Duval Phelan Literary Award winner by this year’s judges for both its accomplishment and promise. – 2008 Panel of Judges: Persis M. Karim, Toni Mirosevich, & giovanni singleton
About the Namesakes of these Awards:
Joseph Henry Jackson moved to California after WWI and became editor of Sunset Magazine from 1926-28. From 1924-1943 he hosted the radio program “Bookman’s Guide,” and in 1930 he became literary editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, continuing in that role for the rest of his life and gaining national prominence. He was also the author or editor of some dozen books, often concerning California history. He served on many literary boards, including the O. Henry Memorial Award, the Harper Prize Novel, and the Pulitzer Prize. In his book columns and by personal contact, Jackson was always interested in discovering and encouraging new writers. Appropriately, his friends established the Jackson Award at The San Francisco Foundation after his death in 1955.
James Duval Phelan was born, raised, and educated in San Francisco before entering the family banking business. In 1897 he ran for mayor of San Francisco, was elected and re-elected twice, gaining a great reputation for drafting a new city charter and beautifying the city through new parks and playgrounds. Later elected to the U.S. Senate, he served as a Democrat from 1915 to 1921. During his lifetime he encouraged and financially aided writers, artists and musicians, for whom he provided very generously through his will after his death in 1930.
About the Judges:
Persis M. Karim has been an associate professor in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at San Jose State University since 1999. She received both her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature and her M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. She has been a visiting scholar at the California College of the Arts, and has taught at UC Santa Cruz and University of Texas at Austin. She is the editor of Let Me Tell You Where I’ve Been: New Writing by Women of the Iranian Diaspora (University of Arkansas Press, 2006) and co-editor of A World Between: Poetry, Short Stories, and Essays by Iranian-Americans (George Braziller, Inc. Publishers, 1999). She has published articles in the Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Literature (Greenwood Press, 2005), Women Without Men (The Feminist Press, 2004), Twenty-First Century American Novelists (Thomson/Gale, 2004), and her poetry in Alimentum, Reed Magazine, Caesura: The Journal of the Poetry Center San Jose, Heartlodge, and Asian American Literature. Karim has also participated in conferences at the University of Maryland, Santa Clara University, UCLA, University of Pennsylvania, Annual Meeting of the Modern Language Association, University of Utah, and UC Santa Cruz. She is currently working on a collection of essays, In the Belly of the Great Satan: Art, Literature and the Emergence of Iranian American Identity. This is Karim’s second year serving as a judge for the Jackson Phelan Tanenbaum Literary Awards.
Toni Mirosevich grew up in Everett, Washington, in a Croatian-American fishing family, part of an extensive immigrant Slav community. Her first jobs—as a truck driver, attic insulator and weatherizer, swimming pool operator, blood bank mobile unit operator, janitor, and handyperson—were, in the 70s, viewed as nontraditional work fields for women. In her early thirties, she received her M.A. and M.F.A. in creative writing at San Francisco State University, where she began teaching as a lecturer in creative writing in 1991. Firebrand Books published her first book of poetry and prose, The Rooms We Make Our Own, in 1996. That same year, Mirosevich became associate director of the Poetry Center and the American Poetry Archives. Her book of poetry, Queer Street (Custom Words) was published in 2005. Another poetry collection, My Oblique Strategies, won the 2005 Frank O’Hara Chapbook Award and was published by Thorngate Road. She has been the recipient of the Astraea Foundation Emerging Lesbian Writer in Fiction Award, Pushcart Prize, and Lambda Literary Award nominations, and has received fellowship support from the MacDowell Colony, the Willard R. Espy Foundation, and the Djerassi Resident Artists Program. Mirosevich writes and teaches in multiple genres. Her award-winning work has appeared in the Kenyon Review, Gastronomica, Puerto del Sol, UTNE, San Francisco Chronicle Magazine, and various other publications. Poems and nonfiction stories have been anthologized in Best American Travel Writing, The Impossible Will Take A Little While, The Discovery of Poetry, Best of the Bellevue Literary Review, and elsewhere. Toni Mirosevich is a professor in creative writing at San Francisco State University, and lives in Pacifica, California. This is Mirosevich’s first year serving as a judge for the Jackson Phelan Tanenbaum Literary Awards.
giovanni singleton received her M.F.A. in Creative Writing from New College of California and her B.A. in Communications/Print Journalism from The American University. She has been a visiting writer at California State University of Los Angeles, writer in residence at School of the Arts in San Francisco, instructor at St. Mary’s College, and a teacher with WritersCorps in San Francisco. She is the founding editor of nocturnes (re)view of the literary arts, and has published her own work in the San Francisco Bay Guardian, Five Fingers Review, Callaloo, Fence, Chain, Proliferation, and MIRAGE #4/PERIOD(ICAL). She has served on the board of directors at The Poetry Center and Archives at San Francisco State University and Small Press Traffic Literary Arts Center. She was a fellow at the Squaw Valley Community of Writers Poetry Workshop, a visiting writer at Cave Canem: A Workshop for African-American Poets, a fellow at The Virginia Commonwealth University’s Zora Neal Hurston/Richard Wright Poetry Workshop, and was a recipient of a New Langton Arts Bay Area Award for Literature. This is singleton’s second year serving as a judge for the Jackson Phelan Tanenbaum Literary Awards.
About the Invited Reader:
Tim Z. Hernandez is a writer and performer originally from Central California’s San Joaquin Valley. He has studied extensively in a variety of mediums including: creative writing, physical theater, and murals, and his written work, performance texts, and art have been published in various anthologies. His performances have been featured in prestigious venues such as: Los Angeles’ Getty Center Museum, The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, San Francisco’s Intersection for the Arts, Stanford University, and at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. In the past, he’s been commissioned by major groups such as the United Way of Greater Los Angeles and the National Fanny Mae Foundation to write and perform his original plays on issues such as homelessness and poverty. He’s the recipient of several notable awards including: 2006 American Book Award for his debut collection of poetry Skin Tax, 2006 Zora Neal Hurston Award for writers of color who exemplify great literary promise and dedication to their communities, and for his one man show, Diaries of a Macho the 2003 Best Solo Production Award, as well as the 2003 James Duval Phelan Award for best manuscript by an emerging writer sponsored by The San Francisco Foundation. In the interest of artistic development, Hernandez focuses on excavating stories that bring to light the tribulations, strengths, and limitless potential of the human capacity, internal/ external, stories of physical and metaphysical journeys.