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>  News Releases >   2001 >   October

Dartmouth Professors Ernest Hebert and Cleopatra Mathis sweep N.H. Writers' Project's 2001 Poetry and Fiction Awards

Posted 10/16/01

At a ceremony in Concord, N.H., on Thursday, Oct. 18, the New Hampshire Writers' Project (NHWP) will present Dartmouth Professors of English Ernest Hebert and Cleopatra Mathis its top annual awards for the most outstanding work by New Hampshire writers in the fields of fiction and poetry respectively. The awards will be presented at the Kimball-Jenkins Estate in Concord.

"The New Hampshire Writers' Project is delighted that two of the recipients of the 2001 New Hampshire Literary Awards hail from the Dartmouth Faculty," said Katie Goodman, Executive Director of NHWP, "I count Ernie and Cleo among two of the strongest literary voices that New Hampshire is home to."

Mathis will receive the Jane Kenyon Award for Outstanding Book of Poetry for What To Tip the Boatman?, her fifth book of poems. She has taught English and creative writing at Dartmouth since 1982. Set entirely in New Hampshire, What to Tip the Boatman? is a narrative collection of poems about mothering.

Syd Lea, one of the judges for the poetry competition described Mathis' work as "resolutely grown up," saying, "Cleopatra Mathis looks into the abyss, acknowledges the temptations of despair, and then -- by way of craft and heart combined -- gives herself and her readers clear reasons to affirm the world and to carry on. A sublimely moving collection."

Mathis' poems have appeared in magazines, textbooks and anthologies including Poetry, American Poetry Review, and The New Yorker. She was recently awarded an Individual Artists Fellowship by the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts.

Hebert will receive the Outstanding Work of Fiction award for his novel, The Old American. Hebert came to Dartmouth in 1987 and now teaches courses in English and creative writing. He was inspired to write The Old American by an actual event from the history of his native Keene, N.H. The central character is Caucus-Meteor, a self-styled "king" of a group of Native American refugees living in Canada. The New York Times Book Review said, "Caucus-Meteor is magnificently alive...to share his thoughts is in itself an extraordinary adventure." Yankee magazine called the novel "the best work so far of one of New England's best writers."

Said Barbara Raives, a judge in the fiction category, "The two main characters [in The Old American] are richly drawn and their relationship convincing as they develop a relationship that overcomes both cultural and personal barriers--a timely subject in new America, as well as old."

The New Hampshire Writers' Project is a nonprofit organization that fosters the literary arts in the Granite State by serving as a resource for and about New Hampshire writers, supporting the development of individual writers, and encouraging an audience for literature in New Hampshire. Also receiving awards will be: Richard Adams Carey (Outstanding Work of Nonfiction for Against the Tide) and Donald M. Murray (Lifetime Achievement award to be presented on Nov. 9 at the Governor's Awards in the Arts ceremony.)

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