Newsroom

September 16, 1998

Middlebury College Bread Loaf Writers' Conference Awards 1998 Bakeless Nason Prizes in Poetry and Fiction

The Bread Loaf Writers' Conference of Middlebury College has announced the recipients of the third annual Bakeless Nason Prizes in poetry and fiction for 1998. The prizes, established in honor of a long-time supporter of Middlebury College, are awarded to aid and encourage writers who are seeking publication of their first books. Winners of the Bakeless prize will receive fellowships to attend Bread Loaf Writers' Conference.

Judy Doenges' "What She Left Me: Stories and a Novella" was chosen by novelist and Bread Loaf faculty member Richard Bausch for the fiction award. Poet and fellow Bread Loaf faculty member Ellen Bryant Voigt chose Chris Forhan's "Forgive Us Our Happiness" and Dan Tobin's "Where the World Is Made" for the poetry prize. Judy Doenges, Chris Forhan and Dan Tobin's books will be published in the fall of 1998 by Middlebury College\University Press of New England.

Judy Doenges, the fiction award winner, is a native of the Midwest and lives in Tacoma, Wash. She holds an undergraduate degree in English and philosophy from the University of Wisconsin and a master's in creative writing from the University of Massachusetts. Her work has been published in The Georgia Review, Nimrod, Equinox, and The Green Mountains Review. She also has been a writer-in-residence at Headlands Center for the Arts, as well as the Hedgebrook, Ragdale, and MacDowell artists' communities, and has received grants from the Ohio Arts Council and Artist Trust. She is a frequent book reviewer for The Seattle Times. For the past six years, Doenges has been a lecturer in English at Pacific Lutheran University.

In Bausch's award citation for "What She Left Me: Stories and a Novella," he described Doenges' work as "a wonderfully various, and richly detailed collection of worlds. Each story quickly establishes its own boundaries and its own separateness, not just from the other stories in the book, but in a very real way from all other stories everywhere. As with anything truly original, one feels as if one has arrived at the essence of a personality, here. There is a marvelous insistence in these voices, an urgency that breathes in them, and does not feel produced or willed. By turns tender, sardonic, wise, sorrowful, and tough, always precise and emotionally exact, it exemplifies artful storytelling, this blessed occupation, at its beautifully honorable best."

Born in Seattle, Wash., poetry prize winner Chris Forhan received his undergraduate degree in communications from Washington State University. After a brief career in television news, he returned to school, earning a master's in English from the University of New Hampshire. His poems have been published over the last 10 years in Prairie Schooner, Willow Springs, The Greensboro Review, Fine Madness, and other magazines. Since 1989 he has lived with his wife, the painter Rebecca Freeman, in Charleston, S.C., teaching English at Trident Technical College.

In presenting the Bakeless poetry award to Forhan, Voigt said, "While many young poets arrive barely hatched from their apprenticeship cocoons, others simply appear in the tree, singing, like some new species of bird. Chris Forhan is that second kind of creature, and the voice in these poems-at once wry, plaintive, self-chastising, inventive, innocent and wise-never fails to compel and to surprise. How, why should one resist such songs?"

Dan Tobin, also the recipient of a Bakeless poetry prize, grew up in New York City. He earned his bachelor's of arts degree in psychology and religion from Iona College, master's degrees in theological studies from Harvard University and in fine arts from Warren Wilson College, and a doctorate in English literature from the University of Virginia. Tobin attended the 1995 Bread Loaf Writers' Conference as a scholar and has won a number of literary prizes and fellowships, including a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and a Discovery Prize, an award co-sponsored by The Nation magazine and the 92nd Street Y. His book "Passage to the Center: Imagination and the Sacred in the Poetry of Seamus Heaney" will be published in October 1998 by the University Press of Kentucky. Tobin is an assistant professor of English at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wis.

Praising Tobin's poetry, Voigt said, "Poetry began in story, and Dan Tobin's poems remind us of that beginning with its deep connections to ritual and to the tribe. A musical Bildungsroman, "Where the World Is Made" explores the seen and unseen, the physical and the metaphysical, in poems of great clarity, precision, and intelligence. This is a mind that remains skeptical without being cynical, and a first book of remarkable authority."

No award was made in creative nonfiction for 1998.

For more information concerning the Bakeless Nason Literary Publication Prizes, contact Ian Pounds, Bakeless Prizes, Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, Middlebury College, Middlebury, VT 05753. (E-mail: BLWC@Middlebury.edu). Complete guidelines for the 1999 prizes are currently available.