FSU authors win honors in Florida Book Awards competition

David Kirby

Three FSU faculty members are among the winning authors recognized in the second annual Florida Book Awards competition.

The Florida Book Awards recognize, honor and celebrate the best Florida literature penned by new and established authors alike and published during the previous year. John Cole, director of the Center for the Book at the U.S. Library of Congress, has called the contest the most comprehensive initiative of its kind in the nation.

From the FSU English department faculty and its top-ranked Creative Writing Program, winners of 2007 Florida Book Awards include David Kirby, the Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor of English, and Assistant Professor Julianna Baggott.

An internationally renowned poet, award-winning teacher and noted book critic for the New York Times, Kirby has won the Florida Book Awards gold medal for poetry for his collection, “The House on Boulevard St.: New and Collected Poems.” Last fall, the book was a finalist for the 2007 National Book Award for Poetry.

“When you work in an environment this rich, an apple’s bound to fall off the tree sometime,” Kirby said. “This one took a lucky bounce and ended up in my lap, but there are a lot of fantastic writers in the state of Florida.”

Julianna Baggott
Julianna Baggott

Baggott—a gold medalist in last year’s Florida Book Awards contest—is a double winner this year. A prolific author in multiple genres, she has earned a silver medal for her children’s book, “The Slippery Map” (written under pen name N.E. Bode), and a bronze for her collection of poetry, “Compulsions of Silkworms and Bees.”

“I’m delighted to be in such great company—including my FSU colleague David Kirby, to name just one among a host of great writers who’ve won awards this year,” Baggott said. “The Florida Book Awards represent a giant step forward in cultivating the literature of this state and, at the same time, encouraging reading.”

FSU’s history department also has a Florida Book Awards winner. Elna Green, the Allen Morris Professor of History, received a bronze medal in the non-fiction category for “Looking for a New Deal: Letters from Florida Women during the Great Depression.”

Co-sponsored by a dozen high-profile humanities organizations throughout the state, the annual Florida Book Awards competition bestows gold, silver and bronze medals on books in seven categories ranging from poetry and popular fiction to children’s and Spanish-language literature. Its judges include scholars (some of them previous winners) from FSU and other Florida universities and from co-sponsoring organizations such as the Florida Library Association and Florida Humanities Council.

FORUM, the magazine of the Florida Humanities Council, will devote its entire June issue to the Florida Book Awards winners, and winning authors have been scheduled to appear or speak at the Florida Association for Media in Education and at book fairs in Vero Beach, Sarasota, St. Petersburg and Miami.

For a complete list of the 2007 Florida Book Awards winners, visit the Web site here.

The annual Florida Book Awards competition is coordinated through the FSU Program in American and Florida Studies. The program’s director, FSU Professor of English John Fenstermaker, serves as chairman of the Florida Book Awards executive committee, while Wayne Wiegand, a professor of American studies and of library science and information studies at FSU, serves as the competition’s director.

Co-sponsors of the Florida Book Awards include the Florida Center for the Book; the State Library and Archives of Florida; Florida Historical Society; Florida Humanities Council; Florida Library Association; Governor’s Family Literacy Initiative; Florida Literary Arts Coalition; Florida Association for Media in Education; Florida Center for the Literary Arts; Friends of the FSU Libraries; Florida Chapter of the Mystery Writers of America; and “Just Read, Florida!”