2017 Denny C. Plattner Awards

We are proud to announce the winners of the annual Denny C. Plattner Awards, which were established in 1995 by Kenneth and Elissa Plattner to honor their late son and his love of writing. The awards are given to the finest pieces of fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry that appeared in Appalachian Heritage during the previous year. Winners receive a $200 prize, and both winners and honorable mentions are awarded a handsome cherry wooden book rack designed and manufactured by Berea College Crafts.

Judged by Carter Sickels, author of The Evening Hour
Winner: T.M. Williams, “Murmuration”
Honorable Mention: Leah Hampton, “Sparkle”

Sickels on the winning story: In “Murmuration,” about a matriarch’s struggle with diabetes and illness, Williams writes about the pain of the body and the pain of familial grief without flinching. The author doesn’t look away from the grim details, and yet the lyrical prose is beautiful and dream-like—never rosy or soft, but clear-eyed and honest. In this story about love and loss, the narrator recollects her grandmother’s quick-witted humor, toughness, and despair, as she leads us deep into the mountains and into the intimate, hushed spaces of memory.

Judged by Greta McDonough, author of Her Troublesome Boys
Winner: Jessie van Eerden, “Yoke”
Honorable Mention: Sean Patrick Hill, “A Country of Edges”

McDonough on the winning essay: Jessie van Eerden’s essay “Yoke” is lyrical, ephemeral, yet stark and unflinching. The language, alone, is enough to draw us in and hold us it its sway, but then van Eerden does this other, grander thing. She roots us utterly in the reality of human experience, while inviting us to join her in contemplation of the Mysterious. We go with her gladly.

Judged by Jane Hicks, author of Driving with the Dead and Blood and Bone Remember
Winner: William Kelley Woolfitt, “Glassworks Hot Room as Pentecostal Church
Honorable Mention: Maurice Manning, “An Iron Ring Fastened to a Rail in the Barn”

Hicks on the winning poem: I admired this poem when it first appeared in Appalachian Heritage. The author captured the heightened atmosphere of the room and the flame of Pentecost. When I saw it on the list of finalists, I could immediately recall the images in the poem. The author created a perfect, small moment.

Jason Kyle Howard is the author of A Few Honest Words and co-author of Something's Rising, both works of literary journalism. His essays, features, and commentary have appeared in the New York Times, Oxford American, Salon, The Millions, The Nation, Sojourners, and on C-SPAN's Book TV and NPR. Howard is editor of Appalachian Review, a literary quarterly based at Berea College, where he teaches and directs the creative writing program. He serves on the graduate faculty of the Spalding University School of Creative and Professional Writing, and holds an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts and degrees from The George Washington University and the University of Kentucky.

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