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2016 CAL Writing Award Winners

Poetry, Single Poem
When the Owl Came to Gunnamatta Park, by Dan Guenther

FROM THE JUDGES: This engaging poem makes us acquainted with a visiting owl, which is by turns a bird of prey, an eccentric old man laying claim to the neighborhood, a mysterious shape-shifter, or perhaps a lover calling to his beloved. Or even a conjurer seeking to communicate with “the great beyond.”

Poetry, Collection
Moon-Hung Midnights, by Lois Beebe Hayna

FROM THE JUDGES: A lyrical and luminous meditation on life, on what it means to have “hooked a brief ride on an almost infinitesimal carousel” called earth. Her gaze ranges widely, from flowers, birds, weather and the phases of the moon to the personal and historical. Poems beautifully crafted and a pleasure to read.

Between Urban and Wild, by Andrea M. Jones

FROM THE JUDGES: Delicious writing, gentle and deep. Enough detail to draw us in and enough gentleness to make it worth our while.

Feature Articles
And the AWARD WINNER is A New Breed of Therapy, by Jen Reeder

FROM THE JUDGES: Great subject that was well crafted. Like the best features, it tells a story. In this case, a powerful story of healing and giving back. It’s easy to slip into sentiment with this type of subject. Reeder keeps a steady hand and goes for the heart, not the sensational.

After Charleston, by Patricia Raybon

FROM THE JUDGES: Both powerful and gentle, the description of the outpouring love after Charleston is excellent.

Children’s Books
The Mermaid’s Gift, by Claudia Cangilla McAdam

FROM THE JUDGES: The rich language of the text combines with beautiful water color illustrations to present not only a moral tale, but also a feast for the eyes and ears of the picture book reader.

Young Adult Books
War Bonds – Remembering One Small Town in America During World War II, by Beverly Jones

FROM THE JUDGES: Well written coming of age story takes full advantage of the WWII time period and small town setting to explore a girl’s shattered view of life by prejudice and intolerance where she least expected to find it. Jones has created a confident and brave character who learns from all the “rocks” Jones throws her way. Betsy is a delight, and the period details ring true.

General Non-Fiction
Prophets and Moguls, Rangers and Rogues, Bison and Bear, by Heather Hansen

FROM THE JUDGES: An important book for anyone who values our national park system and who wants to understand it’s sometimes turbulent history. Well-written and well researched, but more than just another dry history book. It’s a fascinating read about how we got here and its many anecdotes, interesting facts, and wonderful images. It was an ambitious undertaking that succeeds with its mission of educating the reader.

Creative Non-Fiction
Flying with El Condor, by Carolyn Evans Campbell

FROM THE JUDGES: A memoir composed of vignettes from the author’s experiences in Peru, and about the many wacky and interesting characters she met during a decade-long adventure. A great story that’s well written and amuses the reader with flashes of humor.

Short Fiction
Knife River Flint, from the collection, Tesserae: A Mosaic of Story, by Sharon Cairns Mann

FROM THE JUDGES: Excellent story of loss and the very beginnings of tentative healing. Well crafted, nicely told.

Mainstream Fiction
Contrition, by Maura Weiler

FROM THE JUDGES: Well-written, well-plotted, and engaging characters. The questions of what it means to create and what it means to destroy as well as what is the definition of art seem to be among the most fundamental questions of life and by far the most difficult to answer. Weiler’s characters ultimately answer this for themselves, but leave us to ponder our own interpretations, and that is what of work of art like Contrition should do.

Genre Fiction
Murder on the Tracks, by Bruce Most

FROM THE JUDGES: Set in 1949 in lower downtown Denver, a hard-boiled cop deals with the death of an Indian near the tracks and the intricate implications that follow. An easy read and a page-turner. The writing was transparent, which puts the reader inside the story. Good use of senses, a good voice, and good attention to details.

Click here to download a slide show of the winners, including the Lifetime Achievement Award winner and the Author Advocate Award winner.


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