Winners of the 2010 AWP Award Series

The AWP Award Series in Creative Nonfiction

Winner: Danielle Cadena Deulen
The Riots, University of Georgia Press

Luis Alberto Urrea, Judge: There are moments of transcendent prose in this manuscript that elevates it far beyond what we might expect of it at first blush. It manages to become more profound, and more beautiful, the more desperate and tragic its trajectory. Finally, it is a triumph of wisdom and great art.

Danielle Cadena Deulen is an essayist and poet.  Her first collection of poems, Lovely Asunder, won the Miller Williams Arkansas Poetry Prize and will be published with the University of Arkansas Press in spring 2011.  Formerly, she was a Jay C. and Ruth Halls Poetry Fellow with the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  She has received three Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry prizes (2007 , 2008, 2010) and a Virginia Center for Creative Arts fellowship.  Her poetry has appeared most recently in Smartish Pace, Best New Poets 2009, and the Indiana Review, and her essays are forthcoming in the Iowa Review and American Literary Review.  She received her MFA in Creative Writing from George Mason University, and is currently a PhD candidate in English at the University of Utah.  

Creative Nonfiction Finalist: Philip Gerard - More Things in Heaven and Earth: True Adventures in This Mysterious Life

The AWP Award Series in the Novel

Winner: Mandy Keifetz
Flea Circus: A Brief Bestiary of Grief, New Issues Press

Francine Prose, Judge: I was drawn to the sheer strangeness of the writer's project: the lyrical, tough-talking high-low lament of a Jersey Girl who cannot, who will not, and who essentially luxuriates in her refusal to get over the suicide of her lover. A simultaneously reckless and calculated intensity permeates this novel, in which the most important event has already happened, and the narrative arc (if we can call it that) is mostly ruminative and interior. Fairly soon, we realize that the narrator is playing with language, with the alphabet, even; it's not accidental that the epigraph is taken from Georges Bataille. But for me the real surprises were less about letters than about voice, about sentences and about the paragraphs that nearly always ended in a different place (and more interestingly) than I might have predicted.

Mandy Keifetz lives in Brooklyn, New York. Her work has appeared in Penthouse, Vogue, QW, the Review of Contemporary Fiction, the Comics Journal, Lou-Lou, the New York Press, Our Town, Manhattan Spirit, and many others. Corrido (represented in the U.S. by Malaga Baldi and in the U.K. by Annina Meyerhans at The Marsh Agency; optioned by Laura Phillips at Hanthum Films, U.K.) was her first novel and was favorably reviewed in several journals and on radio shows, and selected as a best first novel out of New York by the Library Journal. Entertainment Weekly called it “an intoxicating cocktail of sex and death.” Keifet was a Fellow with the New York Foundation for the Arts in 2002, and her plays have been staged in London at the Young Vic, in Cambridge at the Junction Theater, and at the Judith E. Wilson Studio, in Montréal at the Théâtre Ste. Catherine, in Oslo at the Samtidsfestivalen, and in New York at Where Eagles Dare Studios. She is an occasional MFA dissertation defense panelist at UMASS, Amherst.

Novel Finalist: Tim Schell - The Memoir of Jake Weedsong

Donald Hall Prize for Poetry

Winner: Quan Barry
Water Puppets, University of Pittsburgh Press

Alberto Ríos, Judge: These poems impress with the enormous and energetic distances they travel. More impressive, however, is the focus they show on arrival.  We are everywhere, but everywhere is distinctly somewhere—and often dangerous. These words are the essence of displacement. Yet these poems do not stop there, are not so easy on themselves, speaking in clear voice for the new as well as the past. They relentlessly address their—and our—changing and unchanging world against the loose backdrop of Vietnamese water-puppet theater, whose imaginative traditions show themselves in repeatedly memorable moments. These poems may move on water, but their voices do not falter.

Quan Barry is the author of the poetry collections Asylum and Controvertibles, both published by the University of Pittsburgh Press. She currently teaches at the University of Wisconsin.

Poetry Finalists: David Keplinger- Anatomies; Tana Jean Welch- Cannon Splinter; Josiah Bancroft- The Death of Giants

The Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction

Winner: Douglas Light
Girls in Trouble, University of Massachusetts Press

Peter Ho Davies, Judge: A collection - any collection, whether of art, or stories, or Hummel figurines - implies two questions. How are these things similar and, more subtley, how are they different? Girls in Trouble, fittingly, takes difference as its great subject - the differences between men and women, here and there, facts and truth. It's the acute, exacting scrutiny of what lies between these pairings - the history between a man and a woman, the mystery between fact and truth, the "somewhere between where we don't want to be and where we're going," as one character puts it - that truly distinguishes this work. From terse and diverse fragments, [the author] has assembled a coherent, echoing vision of the world between - a world we all, in our own ways, inhabit.

Douglas Light is the author of the novel East Fifth Bliss, which won the 2007 Benjamin Franklin Award for Best Fiction. The screen adaptation, which he co-wrote, was filmed in 2010. It stars Golden Globe winner Michael C. Hall, Lucy Liu, Peter Fonda, and Brie Larson. Light received a 2010 NoMAA/JP Morgan writers grant, was selected as a finalist for the 2002 James Jones First Novel Fellowship, and has been published in Narrative, Guernica, Alaska Quarterly Review, Failbetter, among other publications. His fiction was selected for inclusion in O. Henry Prize Stories 2003 and Best American Nonrequired Reading 2003 anthologies.  He lives in New York City. More information is available at

Short Fiction Finalists: Jim Gavin- Middle Men; Donna Miscolta- Natalie Wood's Fake Puerto Rican Accent and Other Stories

List of Winners

The Donald Hall Prize for Poetry and Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction are made possible by the generous support of:

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See a list of previous AWP Award Series winners.