The Beatrice Hawley Award is given annually by Alice James Books, affiliated with the University of Maine, Farmington. The award includes publication of a book-length poetry manuscript and a cash prize (currently $2,000).
The award was established by the press in 1986 to honor cooperative member author Beatrice Hawley (Making the House Fall Down, 1977) who died in 1985 at forty-one years of age from lung cancer. The Award is a nationally-offered publication prize open to poets at any stage of their careers.
The first award recipient was Linnea Johnson, for The Chicago Home. Winners of the award have often gone on to receive national attention and further honors for their winning works, most notably, Brian Turner, for Here, Bullet, which received national and international media attention. Turner also received numerous further awards and honors for his work, including a 2006 Lannan Literary Fellowship, the 2006 Northern California Book Award in Poetry, the 2006 PEN Center USA “Best in the West” Literary Award in Poetry, a 2007 NEA Literature Fellowship in Poetry, the 2007 Poets’ Prize, and the 2009 Amy Lowell Poetry Traveling Scholarship.
Catherine Barnett (Into Perfect Spheres Such Holes Are Piereced, 2003) was further recognized with the 2004 Glasgow Prize for Emerging Writers, a Whiting Award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Mary Szybist (Granted, 2003) was further recognized with the 2004 Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award, and was a 2003 National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist. B.H. Fairchild (The Art of the Lathe, 1997) was 1998 National Book Award Finalist, and won the 1999 William Carlos Williams Award, the 1999 PEN Center West Poetry Award, the 1999 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, and the 1999 California Book Award. Most recently, the 2008 winner, Slamming Open the Door, by Kathleen Sheeder Bonanno, was reviewed by The New York Times Sunday Book Review, and Bonanno was interviewed on NPR’s Fresh Air by Terri Gross.
Beatrice Hawley Award Winners
- 2011: Jane Springer, for Murder Ballad
- 2010: Lesle Lewis, for lie down too
2009: Reginald Dwayne Betts, for Shahid Reads His Own Palm
2008: Kathleen Sheeder Bonanno for Slamming Open the Door
2007: Lia Purpura, for King Baby
2006: Henrietta Goodman, for Take What You Want
2005: Brian Turner, for Here, Bullet
2004: Dobby Gibson, for Polar
2003: Catherine Barnett, for Into Perfect Spheres Such Holes Are Pierced
2002: Mary Szybist, for Granted
2001: Liz Waldner, for Self and Simulacra
2000: Claudia Keelan, for Utopic
1999: Amy Newman, for Camera Lyrica
1998: Laura Kasischke, for Fire and Flower
1997: B.H. Fairchild, for The Art of the Lathe
1996: Cynthia Huntington, for We Have Gone to the Beach
1995: Forrest Hamer, for Call & Response
1994: Richard McCann, for Ghost Letters
1992: Alice Jones, for The Knot
1988: Jean Valentine, for Home Deep Blue
1987: Laurel Trivelpiece, for Blue Holes
1986: Linnea Johnson, for The Chicago Home
Alice James Books was founded [as a co-operative press, in Cambridge, MA] in 1973 by five women and two men: Patricia Cumming, Marjorie Fletcher, Lee Rudolph, Ron Schreiber, Betsy Sholl, Cornelia Veenendaal, and Jean Pedrick. The intent was to provide women with a greater representation in literature and involve the writer in the publishing process. While this may seem unbelievable today, in the 1970s women writers had a very difficult time being published. Recognizing this dire need, Alice James Books was established. Maine Poet Laureate Betsy Sholl shared her memory of being a founding member of the press in an interview:
“The experience of starting the press from the ground up, she says, was a heady one, not least because the organization put a special emphasis on publishing poetry written by women. ‘There really were attitudes that made it hard for women to publish,’ Sholl says. ‘There weren’t a lot of women being published, and male editors tended to be pretty disdainful.’
The press is named for Alice James (sister of novelist Henry James and philosopher William James), whose fine journal and gift for writing were unrecognized within her lifetime. The mission of Alice James Books, a cooperative poetry press, is to seek out and publish the best contemporary poetry by both established and beginning poets, with particular emphasis on involving poets in the publishing process.