Judges for 2012 Literary Contest

Editor’s Note: Contest Opens Aug. 1. Submission guidelines are posted here: New Southerner Literary Contest.


Jane Gentry Vance was born in central Kentucky where she grew up on a farm at Athens in Fayette County. She now lives in Versailles in Woodford County. Her most recent full-length collection of poems, Portrait of the Artist as a White Pig, came out in  2006 from Louisiana State University Press, which also published her previous collection, A Garden in Kentucky, in 1995. In 2008, she co-edited with Frederick Smock Five Kentucky Poets Laureate: An Anthology. An English professor at the University of Kentucky where she won the UK Alumni Association’s Great Teacher Award, she conducts poetry-writing workshops and teaches in the University Honors Program. She earned a bachelor of arts from Hollins College in Virginia, a master of arts from Brandeis University in Boston and a doctorate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has been awarded two Al Smith Fellowships by the Kentucky Arts Council and has held fellowships at Yaddo in Saratoga Springs, New York, and at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts at Lynchburg. She was appointed Kentucky Poet Laureate for 2007 and 2008.


Karen Salyer McElmurray’s Surrendered Child: A Birth Mother’s Journey was an AWP Award Winner for Creative Nonfiction. It was called by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution “a moving meditation on loss and discovery of self.” Her novels are The Motel of the Stars, Editor’s Pick by Oxford American, and Strange Birds in the Tree of Heaven, winner of the Chaffin Award for Appalachian Writing. Her work has been supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Kentucky Foundation for Women, and her essays have appeared in various anthologies, including  An Angle of Vision, Dirt, Listen Here: Women Writing in Appalachia and To Tell the Truth. She is at work revising a new novel, Wanting Inez, which is about fortune telling, tattoos, the mystery of family and the lost identity of land, and is also working on a collection of essays called The Land Between. 


Silas House is the author of five novels: Clay’s Quilt,  A Parchment of LeavesThe Coal TattooEli the Good, Same Sun Here (co-authored with Neela Vaswani); three plays, The Hurting PartLong Time Travelling, This Is My Heart For You; and Something’s Rising, a creative nonfiction book about social protest co-authored with Jason Howard. He was selected to edit the posthumous manuscript of acclaimed writer James Still, Chinaberry. House is a two-time finalist for the Southern Book Critics Circle Prize, a two-time winner of the Kentucky Novel of the Year, the Appalachian Writer of the Year, recipient of the Lee Smith Award, the Hobson Medal for Literature, the Appalachian Book of the Year, the Chaffin Prize for Literature, the Award for Special Achievement from the Fellowship of Southern Writers and The Parents’ Choice Award (Fiction, 10  & Up). House serves as director of the Loyal Jones Appalachian Center at Berea College and on the fiction faculty at Spalding University’s MFA in Creative Writing program.

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