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2009 Oklahoma Book Award Winners

photograph of 2008 OK Book Award Winners
2009 Winners (back row, left to right) Eric H. Anderson and Nathan Brown • (front) Anna Myers, Karen Hayes-Thumann, Kandy Radzinski and Carolyn Wall • (not pictured) Linda Peavy and Ursula Smith

photograph of bookPoetry

Two Tables OverNathan Brown—Village Books Press, Cheyenne, OK

Brown describes himself as "a poet, musician, photographer or problem … depending on who's talking." He's also a traveler, a teacher, and that shrewd observer two tables over at a local Norman coffee house. His revelations about what he sees transform both the poet and his readers. Brown's books Suffer the Little Voices and Not Exactly Job received the honor of finalist for the Poetry Award in previous years.

Design and Illustration

photograph of bookDesign Winner—Placing Memory: A Photographic Exploration of Japanese American Internment—Photography by Todd Stewart, Design by Eric H. Anderson and Karen Hayes-Thumann—University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, OK

The quality and starkness of Stewart's photographs of former Japanese Internment campsites as they appear today, are juxtaposed with warm World War II era photos of the camps filled with activity. The contrast is striking—where there was life (and internment), now there is abandonment (and freedom). Anderson and Hayes-Thumann's design is spare, uncluttered and intimate. Photographer Stewart and graphic designers Anderson and Hayes-Thumann are all on the faculty of the University of Oklahoma's School of Art and Art History.

photograph of bookIllustration WinnerWhat Dogs Want for Christmas—Illustrations by Kandy Radzinski—Sleeping Bear Press, Chelsea, MI

Here it is—Radzinski's canine response to last year's Oklahoma Book Award winner, What Cats Want for Christmas. These puppies ask Santa for everything from "mittens made of Persian kittens" to a "loving home with someone to hold me and call me their own." The unique character of the different dogs shine through thanks to the artist's craftsmanship. The three-time book award winner lives in Tulsa with her husband Mark and son Ian.


Photograph of bookFull-Court Quest: The Girls from Fort Shaw Indian School, Basketball Champions of the WorldLinda Peavy and Ursula Smith—University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, OK

In this account of Montana's Fort Shaw Indian School girls' basketball teams, Peavy and Smith provide a detailed account of how ten young women, representing seven Indian nations, became world champions while bringing attention to this new American sport. The authors use the story of the girls' basketball team as a springboard to talk about tribes and tribal histories, while exploring both the positive and negative aspects of Indian boarding schools. Peavy is a former instructor of Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee.

Children/Young Adult

Photograph of bookSpyAnna Myers—Walker & Company, New York, NY

As a country fights for its freedom, Jonah Hawkins must make a choice as to where his loyalties lie. His promise to his dying father that he would remain loyal to the king isn't easy to keep after he meets his new teacher Master Nathan Hale, especially after he hears Hale utter the famous words, "I only regret I have but one life to lose for my country." Myers has written over a dozen books and received three Oklahoma Book Award medals. She lives in Chandler and is president of the Oklahoma Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.

Photograph of bookFiction

Sweeping up GlassCarolyn D. Wall—Poisoned Pen Press, Scottsdale, AZ

1938 is the coldest winter ever recorded in Aurora, Kentucky, but poverty has the greatest grip. On a strip of icy mountain, Olivia Harker raises her grandson, runs a declining grocery store, and tolerates her crazy mother. When Olivia sets out to discover who is killing the wolves on her land, she discovers something much more sinister than a simple poaching scheme. This debut novel has received glowing reviews, and Wall's writing is being compared to that of Harper Lee and Flannery O'Conner. Wall lives in Oklahoma City, has completed her second novel, and is working on the third. Poisoned Pen Press has sold out of the book, but a new edition by Random House will be available in the fall.

Arrell Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award

photograph of bookRobert J. Conley, one of Oklahoma's most prolific authors, was born in Cushing in 1940. His first novel, Back to Malachi, was published in 1986. Since that time he has had more than seventy books published, both fiction and non-fiction. His poems and short stories have been published in numerous periodicals and anthologies over the years, including some in Germany, France, Belgium, New Zealand and Yugoslavia. His poems have been published in English, Cherokee, and Macedonian.

Conley is known for his accurate depiction of the old West, focusing on the history, tradition, and folklore of the Cherokee people. A member of the Western Writers of America, he has won Spur Awards for two of his novels, Nickajack and The Dark Island, and for his short story "Yellow Bird: An Imaginary Autobiography." The Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers named him Wordcrafter of the Year in 1997. That same year, he was also inducted into the Oklahoma Professional Writers Hall of Fame. In 2007, his book Cherokee Medicine Man was part of the annual literary six-pack for the Oklahoma Reads Oklahoma statewide centennial literary celebration.

He is an enrolled member of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma. Conley has been assistant programs manager for the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, director of Indian Studies at Bacone College, associate professor of English at Morningside College, coordinator of Indian Culture at Eastern Montana College, and instructor of English at Southwest Missouri State University and at Northern Illinois University. He is the new Sequoyah Distinguished Professor in Cherokee Studies at Western Carolina University.


To see complete list of 2009 Oklahoma Book Award Finalists go here.


The Oklahoma Center for the Book, sponsor of the Oklahoma Book Award competition, is located in the Oklahoma Department of Libraries. Established in 1986 as an outreach program of the Library of Congress, the Oklahoma Center was the fourth such state center formed. Additional sponsorship of the awards program is through the Friends of the Oklahoma Center for the Book, a nonprofit 501-c-3 organization.

The mission of the Oklahoma Center for the Book is
to promote the work of Oklahoma authors,
to promote the literary heritage of the state, and
to encourage reading for pleasure by Oklahomans of all ages.

For further information about the Oklahoma Center for the Book or the Oklahoma Book Award program, contact Connie Armstrong, 200 NE 18th Street, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, 73105; or call 1-800-522-8116 toll free, statewide. In the Oklahoma City metropolitan area, call 522-3383.


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