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Winners of the 26th Annual Larry Neal Writers’ Awards Announced

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities is proud to announce the winners of the 26th Annual Larry Neal Writers’ Awards.   The Commission awarded $15,000 in prize money to youth, teen, and adult writers in the much-anticipated awards ceremony held on May 8, 2009 at the Theater J – Washington District of Columbia Jewish Community Center.  The awards ceremony, presented in partnership with the PEN/Faulkner Foundation, is the culminating event for the competition, which is open to emerging and professional writers in the District of Columbia.

Submissions for the 26th Larry Neal Writers' Awards were judged by distinguished professionals in the following literary genres:  poetry, short story, essay, and dramatic writing.  As part of the DC 2009 Big Read celebration of Carson McCuller’s The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, the Big Read–DC Special Recognition Award for Creative Expression was instituted.  Special prizes were awarded in each age category to writers who composed an essay on the theme of courage.  The Arts Commission awarded 34 cash prizes; over 400 submissions were received, a major increase from the previous year.  George Pelecanos, noted Crime Novelist, served as Master of Ceremonies.

Larry Neal, the first executive director of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, was one of the most influential writers of his time.  He possessed a deep appreciation of the aspects of African-American life and used this understanding as a source of artistic expression. In addition to his writing, Larry Neal was also a well-respected academic. He was a professor at Yale and Wesleyan Universities, received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1971 and served as Chair in the Humanities Department at Howard University. In 1965, Neal saw that many young Afro-American writers were reevaluating Western ethics and the traditional role of writers in society, as well as the social function of the arts in general. This led him to found the Black Arts Repertory and School with Amiri Baraka (Leroi Jones). His works of poetry, most notably Hoodoo Hollerin BeeBop Ghost and Black Boogaloo, powerfully reflect his philosophy of continuity and the need to celebrate the African-American experience.

For more information about the Larry Neal Writers’ Program, email Lisa Richards ([email protected]) or call (202) 724-5613, TDD (202) 724-4493, or visit www.dcarts.dc.gov.

Youth Fiction
1st Place: Ramona Santana
2nd Place: Chloe Patricia Smith Ashford
3rd Place: Sophia Anne Cordes
Honorable Mention: Ari G. Fiorino
Youth Essay
1st Place-Big Read: Anders Viemose
1st Place: Deamonte Gibson
2nd Place: Meredith Sherman
3rd Place: Sasha Ariel Alston 

Youth Poetry
1st Place: Imani Hyman
2nd Place: Claire E. Parker
3rd Place: Kierra Parks 
Honorable Mention: Jason Goolsby
Teen Fiction
1st Place: Evan Odams
2nd Place: Timothy Valentin
3rd Place: John Nessman
Honorable Mention: Demecia Shiniya- Clark
Teen Essay
1st Place-Big Read: Kristopher Paul Kornegay-Gober
2nd Place-Big Read: Caroline Hall
1st Place: Marian Korom
2nd Place: Etaba Assigana
3rd Place: Uneka LaVon King
Honorable Mention: Samuel McManus Sherman

Teen Poetry
1st Place: Miya NaShonne Upshur-Williams
2nd Place: James Saunders
3rd Place: Claire James

Adult Fiction
1st Place: Jackson Lassiter
2nd Place: Cheryl M. Miner
3rd Place: N'Kenge Feagin
Honorable Mention: Molly McArdle
Honorable Mention: Mark Tarallo

Adult Essay
1st Place-Big Read: Lakiesha R. Carr
2nd Place-Big Read: Michael Sainte-Andress

Adult Poetry
1st Place: Brandel E. France de Bravo
2nd Place: Elise Hofer Derstine
3rd Place: Melanie Henderson
3rd Place: Kim Roberts
Honorable Mention: Angie Chuang

Dramatic Writing
1st Place: Miranda Rose Hall
2nd Place: Ryan Richmond
3rd Place: Gwydion Suilebhan
Honorable Mention: Curtis E. Mitchell