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Book Award Winners
Peter Duval Of Wallingford Takes Prize For Fiction
Lifetime Achievement For Service To Shipley
Courant Books Editor
December 5, 2005

A Web application developer who also teaches at Fairfield University was chosen over two other Fairfield professors, Nicholas Rinaldi. and Michael White, as well as novelists Kate Walbert and Philip Roth, as the winner of the 2005 award for fiction at the Connecticut Book Awards Sunday.

Peter Duval, of Wallingford, took the fiction prize for his short-story collection, "Rear View." Full of deadpan humor and affection for its working-class characters, it was published in 2004 by Houghton Mifflin. It also won the Bakeless Nason Prize for fiction in 2003 and was one of five finalists for the Los Angeles Times First Fiction award last year.

The other nominees were Roth's "The Plot Against America," Walbert's "Our Kind," Rinaldi's "Between Two Rivers" and White's "The Garden of Martyrs."

"Rear View" was praised by award presenter Mary Etter for capturing the hearts and souls of people who lead ordinary lives and revealing them as remarkable within.

Duval thanked his son, Nick, "for helping me to keep it real" and also told the audience "never to underestimate the power of a mother's prayers."

The awards, founded in 2002, are presented annually by the Connecticut Center for the Book, a program of Hartford Public Library and an affiliate of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.

The books, published during the previous year, must be by an author, illustrator or designer who lives or has lived in the state or have a Connecticut setting. They are chosen by judges from nominations made by people in the publishing industry, librarians, teachers and the public.

The ceremonies at Hartford's City Hall featured remarks by master of ceremonies Richard Sugarman of the Connecticut Forum and novelist Katharine Weber, whose novels include "The Music Lesson" and "The Little Women." Her new novel, "Triangle," about the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York, will be published in June.

Weber spoke about the threat posed to independent bookstores and authors by Internet booksellers and the decline in reading.

"We're in trouble here," she said.

"Our attention is divided by the Internet and magazines - we're taking in more text, but we are reading fewer books."

Sales of used books online is growing, she said, "but the author won't make a penny" from such sales, "and the publisher won't know the book has sold." She urged the audience to support local bookstores even though used books can be had online "for 49 cents plus shipping and handling."

Winners were announced in seven categories, and a Lifetime Achievement for Service to the Literary Community Award went to Vivian Shipley, editor of the Connecticut Review and Connecticut State University Distinguished Professor.

Other winners were:

Biography or memoir: Charles Slack for "Hetty: The Genius and Madness of America's First Female Tycoon" (HarperCollins), about Hetty Green, whose vast railroad and real estate fortune during the Gilded Age earned her the sobriquet, "the witch of Wall Street."

Children's literature author: Leslie Connor for "Miss Bridie Chose a Shovel" (Houghton Mifflin), about an immigrant woman who comes to America in 1856 with a shovel that turns out to be a useful tool all her life.

Children's literature illustrator: Etienne Delessert for "Who Killed Cock Robin?" (The Creative Co.), which retells the old ballad as a play for imaginatively costumed children.

Design: William Drenttel and Don Whelan for "Lasting Impressions: The Grolier Club Library" (Winterhouse Editions), about the famous repository of books on the art and history of the book.

Poetry: Sophie Cabot Black for "The Descent" (Graywolf Press). The Los Angeles Times said Black's voice is "startling, jagged and implacable, and `The Descent' is steep, precipitous and dazzling - all the way down from a hard-earned heaven."

Nonfiction: James Gustave Speth for "Red Sky at Morning: America and the Crisis of the Global Environment" (Yale University Press). In it, the dean of Yale's School of Forestry and Environmental Studies argues that new ways of protecting the environment are urgently needed.
Copyright 2005, Hartford Courant

Ravi Shankar, poet-in-residence and assistant professor of English at Central Connecticut State University, for his book entitled
Instrumentality. The collection of poems was published by Cherry Grove Collections in Cincinnati, Ohio. Shankar was a keynote speaker for the IMPAC-CSU Young Writers annual dinner in June 2005 at the Litchfield Inn.

Individuals nominated for the Lifetime Achievement Award should support the purpose of the book awards in having contributed to the world of literature; fostered an interest in books, writing and reading throughout the state; and / or advocated for Connecticut's literary heritage. Previous winners were the co-directors of Curbstone Press, Alexander Taylor and Judith Doyle; Rennie McQuilkin, co-founder of the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival; and novelist Wally Lamb.

Vivian Shipley was born in Chicago and raised in Kentucky. She earned her B.A. and M.A. at the University of Kentucky in 1964 and 1967, respectively, and her Ph.D. at Vanderbilt University in 1975. She has been teaching at Southern Connecticut University since 1969, where she is Connecticut State University Professor. Since 1995, Shipley has been the editor of Connecticut Review, a biannual journal of poetry, prose and art which won the 2001 Literary Excellence in Print Award from National Public Radio's The Poet and the Poem.

In 2003, Shipley won the Connecticut Book Award for Poetry from the Library of Congress Center for the Book. The prize was awarded for Shipley's book When There Is No Shore (Word Press, 2002), which also won the 2002 Word Press Poetry Prize and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.

Shipley has published several collections of poetry besides When There Is No Shore: Gleanings: Old Poems, New Poems (Louisiana Literature Press, 2003); Down of Hawk (Sow's Ear Press, 2001); Fishing Poems (Pudding House Publications, 2001); Fair Haven (Negative Capability Press, 2000), Crazy Quilt (Hanover Press, 1999), How Many Stones? (University of South Carolina Press, 1998), Devil's Lane (Negative Capability Press, 1996), Poems Out of Harlan County (Ithaca House, 1989), and Jack Tales (Greenfield Review Press, 1982). Her poems have also appeared in many prestigious journals and publications including: The Literary Review, Comstock Review, Kalliope, the Vanderbilt Review, Fugue, Indiana Review, The American Scholar, Slant, The Iowa Review, Nebraska Review, Prairie Schooner, Quarterly West and others.

In 2001, Shipley won the Robert Frost Foundation Poetry Prize and the Daniel Varoujan Prize from the New England Poetry Club. In 2000, she won the Marble Faun Award for Poetry from the William Faulkner Society. She has received numerous other prizes for her work as well and twice has been named as Southern Connecticut State University's Faculty Scholar.

On Dec. 4, 2005, Shipley was awarded the 2005 Lifetime Achievement Award for Service to the Literary Community from the Library of Congress Connecticut Center for the Book. She received the award in a presentation at the Connecticut Book Awards Ceremony in Hartford's City Hall.

She edits the Connecticut Review, winner of the 1997 Phoenix Award for Distinguished Editorial Achievement from the Council of Editors for Learned Journals and the 2001 Literary Excellence in Print Award from National Public Radio's The Poet and the Poem.

Poems from Connecticut Review have been selected for both Best American Poetry, 1998 and Pushcart Prizes, XXIII.

Comments from Shipley:  

Thank you Faith Vicinanza for your wonderful comments. I almost don't recognize myself! I also want everyone here to thank Kat Lyons and Louise Blalock for all they have done to make this wonderful celebration happen. Standing up here, I feel like our pound dog named Goldie who would sit under a tree for hours hoping that a squirrel would fall. This award goes to show if you live long enough and keep your mouth open, something good is bound to drop into it.

I'm grateful to Kathleen Butler for her nomination which emphasized the number of creative writing students I have helped to mentor since I began teaching at SCSU in 1969 and the Connecticut writers I have published while editing Connecticut Review. So, in addition to thanking the other judges for this recognition, Amy Barry, Pit Pinegar, Tony Fusco and Shula Chernoff, I want to thank the multitude of Connecticut writers who enabled me to qualify for this award by allowing me to help their voices surface Naturally, I have to thank my husband, Ed Harris, who is now looking forward to many more years of devoted service from me! The only problem is that he's not a writer.

   I feel very fortunate that the three major parts of my life-teacher, editor, poet-- have allowed me to pursue the same goal: to preserve and foster creative voices of other people. As a poet my major subject is the preservation of the details of lives of people who might otherwise be forgotten. To that end, I'd like to read a poem to help us remember and honor Leo Connellan, the 2nd Poet Laureate of Connecticut, whose life ended abruptly when it was snuffed out by a stroke almost five years ago.

   It's been 40 years since I came from Kentucky to Connecticut. I hope that in that time, I have been able to light the creative spark, the candle of many writers and my students who have gone on to become teachers who have then ignited the candles of others who also have passed the flame along. Today, I like to think of thousands of Connecticut people with their candles lifted bringing some light into our world darkened each day by death after death-10 Marines in Iraq Thursday. I know many of you must feel a sense of helplessness in the face of such constant tragedy, but I want to leave you with a thought. It is better to hold up just one candle than to curse the darkness. So, after you leave today, please light the candle of another and ask them to pass the flame, the love to another's hand and then another.

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