Lost dogs and Joan Didion, Danish resistance members and American prisoners: the Oregon Book Awards winners, announced April 24 before a packed house at the Armory, ranged in subject matter, but were united by geography and their chosen art form.
Portlander Joyce Cherry Cresswell took the coveted Ken Kesey Award for A Great Length of Time, a novel inspired by her great-grandmother’s story as a doctor during the American Civil War. The General Nonfiction award went to Tracy Daughtery of Corvallis for his acclaimed biography of the writer Joan Didion, The Last Love Song, while onetime Portlander Walidah Imarisha took the Creative Nonfiction award for her deeply personal and humanizing examination of life behind bars in America.
Host Lysley Tenorio—replete with Ryan Seacrest suit and Roman gladiators calendar—kept proceedings lively in an event that kicked off with a tribute to late Geek Love author Katherine Dunn by local writer Monica Drake.
Anis Mojgani encouraged those present to “shake the dust” in a moving, evocative poem, while the 2016 Verselandia champion Tea Johnson recited a winning piece reworking the tropes of YA literature for real life.
Another notable winner of the night included the Independent Publishing Resource Center, with executive director A.M. O’Malley accepting the Stewart H. Holbrook Literary Legacy Award on behalf of the organization, just weeks before she hands it over to board president Brian Tibbets and steps down.
The Readers Choice award, open to the public through an online survey, was won by Eugene’s Eliot Treichel for his young-adult novel, A Series of Small Maneuvers.
Check out the full list of winners below:
ELOISE JARVIS MCGRAW AWARD FOR CHILDREN'S LITERATURE
Kate Berube of Portland/Hannah and Sugar (Abrams Books for Young Readers)
LESLIE BRADSHAW AWARD FOR YOUNG ADULT LITERATURE
Deborah Hopkinson of West Linn/Courage & Defiance: Stories of Spies, Saboteurs, and Survivors in World War II Denmark (Scholastic)
FRANCES FULLER VICTOR AWARD FOR GENERAL NONFICTION
Tracy Daugherty of Corvallis/The Last Love Song: A Biography of Joan Didion (St. Martin's Press)
SARAH WINNEMUCCA AWARD FOR CREATIVE NONFICTION
Walidah Imarisha of Portland/Angels With Dirty Faces (AK Press)
ANGUS BOWMER AWARD FOR DRAMA
Cindy Williams Gutiérrez of Portland/Words that Burn
STAFFORD/HALL AWARD FOR POETRY
Joe Wilkins of McMinnville/When We Were Birds (University of Arkansas Press)
KEN KESEY AWARD FOR FICTION
Joyce Cherry Cresswell of Portland/A Great Length of Time (Mountain View Press)
READERS CHOICE AWARD
Eliot Treichel of Eugene/A Series of Small Maneuvers (Ooligan Press)
C.E.S. WOOD DISTINGUISHED WRITER AWARD
STEWART H. HOLBROOK LITERARY LEGACY AWARD
Independent Publishing Resource Center
WALT MOREY YOUNG READERS LITERARY LEGACY AWARD