Oklahoma Dept. of
For the first time in the history of the Oklahoma Book Awards, the same book has won in two award categories.
Big Bluestem: A Journey Into The Tall Grass won both the non-fiction and the design\illustration awards during the eighth annual Oklahoma Book Award ceremony, March 8, at the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City.
The awards program is sponsored by the Oklahoma Center For the Book in the Oklahoma Department of Libraries. Books written by Oklahomans or about Oklahoma published during 1996 qualified to enter the 1997 competition. Annick Smith, author of Big Bluestem, and Carol Haralson, the book's designer, were both present to receive the medals. Harvey Payne, whose photography appears throughout the book, was unable to attend the ceremony. Council Oak Books, Tulsa, is the book's publisher and it was sponsored by the Nature Conservancy's Tallgrass Prairie Preserve near Pawhuska.
Stewart O'Nan received the fiction award for his novel, The Names of the Dead. O'Nan wrote the book while teaching creative writing at the University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond. The book is a heartfelt portrait of the Vietnam War and deals with a man's memories that refuse to fade.
Children and Young Adult
Oklahoma City author Barbara Snow Gilbert received the children's award for her first novel Stone Water. Gilbert, an Oklahoma City attorney, raises sensitive legal, moral, and emotional questions in her book about parents and children, love and death.
The poetry award was given to Renata Treitel for her translation of The Blazing Lights of the Sun, written by Rosita Copioli. Treitel was born in Switzerland to an Italian family, and lived in Italy and Argentina before settling in Tulsa in 1960. She is known for her own works of poetry and her translations have appeared in numerous journals.
In addition to the five categories listed, the board of directors of the Oklahoma Center for the Book selects one person each year to be honored for a body of work. This award, the Arrell Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award, was named for the Norman, Oklahoma, historian who served as the first president of the Oklahoma Center for the Book. The 1997 recipient is Tulsa author S.E. Hinton who delighted the
S.E. (Susan Eloise) Hinton was only a 17 year-old high school student in 1967 when the book was published. Today, The Outsiders ranks is a classic and is still widely read by young people. The novel marked the beginning of a new kind of realism in adolescent literature. Teenagers responded overwhelmingly; The Outsiders was made into a popular motion picture, and Hinton became an overnight sucess. Her next four books were also successful young adult novels: Rumble Fish, Tex, Taming the Star Runner and That Was Then, This is Now.
Hinton has also written screenplays, television scripts, and in recent years, has ventured into children's books. She wrote Big David, Little David and The Puppy Sister, both released in 1995 by Bantam, Doubleday, Dell.
From time to time the Ralph Ellison Award, posthumously honoring an Oklahoma writer, is also presented. The award is named after the first recipient, Ralph Ellison, who received the award in 1995. The 1997 Ralph Ellison Award was presented to Angie Debo, often referred to as the "First Lady of Oklahoma History." The award was accepted by Bob Blackburn, deputy director of the Oklahoma Historical Society. Exerpts from the documentary film, Indians, Outlaws, and Angie Debo, showed Dr. Debo at different times of her life.
1997 Oklahoma Book Award Winners Round-Up:
To see complete list of 1997 Oklahoma Book Award Finalists go here.
The Oklahoma Center for the Book, sponsor of the Oklahoma Book Award competition, is a non-profit, 501-c-3 organization 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. It is governed by a volunteer board of directors from across the state.
The mission of the Oklahoma Center for the Book is
For more information about the Oklahoma Center for the Book or the Oklahoma Book Award program, contact Connie Armstrong, 200 N.E. 18th Street, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, 73105; or call 405-522-3383.
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