Florida Book Awards announces 2014 winners

Two Florida State University English department faculty members — Erin Belieu and Barbara Hamby — are among the winners of the ninth annual Florida Book Awards for works published in 2014 in nine categories of competition.

Belieu, a professor of English who specializes in poetry, won the gold medal in the poetry category for her book “Slant Six.” Hamby, a distinguished university scholar who specializes in poetry and fiction, won the silver medal in the poetry category for her book “On the Street of Divine Love.”

Coordinated by the Florida State University Libraries, the Florida Book Awards is the nation’s most comprehensive state book awards program. It was established in 2006 to celebrate the best Florida literature. Authors must be full-time Florida residents, except in the nonfiction and visual arts categories, where the subject matter must focus on Florida.

The more than 200 submissions for the 2014 awards were read by juries of three members, each nominated from across the state by co-sponsoring organizations. Jurors are authorized to select up to three medalists (including one gold winner, one silver runner-up and one bronze medalist) in each of the nine categories; jurors are also authorized to make no selections in a given year.

A new award was introduced this year, the “Gwen P. Reichert Gold Medal for Children’s Literature,” which provides a cash prize for the Gold Winner of the Florida Book Awards in the Children’s Literature category. Named in memory of Gwen P. Reichert, the award serves as a lasting tribute to honor her accomplishments as a rare book collector, nurturer of authors and their audiences, and her commitment to children’s education. Reichert worked as a school principal and was an enthusiastic children’s book collector. She became friends and pen pals with celebrated children’s book authors, including Tasha Tudor and Maurice Sendak. Reichert also founded and served as president of the Randolph Caldecott Society in St. Augustine, Fla.

Florida Book Awards 2014 Winners by Category

Children’s Literature
•Gold Medal and Gwen P. Reichert Gold Medal for Children’s Literature:Cleopatra in Space” (Scholastic) by Mike Maihack
•Silver Medal: “Hello, I’m Johnny Cash” (Candlewick Press) by G. Neri, illustrated by A.G. Ford
•Bronze Medal: “Just A Drop of Water” (Sky Pony Press) by Kerry O’Malley Cerra

Florida Non-Fiction
•Gold Medal: “La Florida: Five Hundred Years of Hispanic Presence” (University Press of Florida) edited by Viviana Díaz Balsera and Rachel A. May
•Silver Medal: “The Peace of Blue: Water Journeys” (University Press of Florida) by Bill Belleville
•Bronze Medal: “Mr. Flagler’s St. Augustine” (University Press of Florida) by Thomas Graham

General Fiction
•Gold Medal: “The Invention of Wings” (Viking Penguin Group) by Sue Monk Kidd
•Silver Medal: “The Heaven of Animals” (Simon & Schuster) by David James Poissant
•Bronze Medal: “The Sheltering” (University of South Carolina Press) by Mark Powell

General Nonfiction
•Gold Medal: “Merlin Stone Remembered” (Llewellyn Worldwide) by David B. Axelrod, Lenny Schneir and Carol Thomas
•Silver Medal: “Einstein Relatively Simple: Our Universe Revealed in Everyday Language” (World Scientific Publishing Company) by Ira Mark Egdall
•Bronze Medal: “Southside Buddhist Essays” (University of Tampa Press) by Ira Sukrungruang

•Gold Medal: “Slant Six” (Copper Canyon Press) by Erin Belieu
•Silver Medal: “On the Street of Divine Love” (University of Pittsburgh Press) by Barbara Hamby
•Bronze Medal: “The Small Blades Hurt” (Measure Press) by Erica Dawson

Popular Fiction
•Gold Medal: “Haunted” (G.P. Putnam’s Sons) by Randy Wayne White
•Silver Medal: “Assassin’s Game” (Forge Books) by Ward Larsen
•Bronze Medal: “The Design is Murder” (Carina Press) by Jean Harrington

Spanish Language
•Gold Medal: “El Arma Secreta” (Editora Nacional de la República Dominicana) by José M. Fernández Pequeño

Visual Arts
•Gold Medal: “Africa in Florida: Five Hundred Years of African Presence in the Sunshine State” (University Press of Florida) edited by Amanda B. Carlson and Robin Poynor
•Silver Medal: “Everglades: America’s Wetland” (University Press of Florida) by Mac Stone
•Bronze Medal: “Surfing Florida: A Photographic History” (University Press of Florida) by Paul Aho

Young Adult Literature
•Gold Medal: “Kiss of Broken Glass” (HarperTeen) by Madeleine Kuderick
•Silver Medal: “Knockout Games” (Carolrhoda Lab/Lerner Publishing Group) by G. Neri
•Bronze Medal: “More Than Good Enough” (Flux) by Crissa-Jean Chappell

All award recipients will be honored at the Abitz Family Dinner, the annual Florida Book Awards banquet, on April 9 at Mission San Luis in Tallahassee. The nine gold medalists will be recognized March 11 at the Florida Heritage Awards Ceremony sponsored by the Florida Department of State’s Division of Cultural Affairs. Winners also will be hosted by Florida first lady Ann Scott at a luncheon at the Governor’s Mansion and invited to participate on a Florida Book Awards panel at the inaugural Word of the South literary and music festival in Tallahassee in April.

Co-sponsors of the competition include humanities organizations from across the state, such as the Florida Center for the Book; the State Library and Archives of Florida; the Florida Historical Society; the Florida Humanities Council; the Florida Literary Arts Coalition; the Florida Library Association; the Florida Association for Media in Education; the Center for Literature and Theatre @ Miami Dade College; the Florida Chapter of the Mystery Writers of America; Friends of FSU Libraries; the Florida Writers Association; the Florida Literacy Coalition; and “Just Read, Florida!”

Learn more about the Florida Book Awards at floridabookawards.lib.fsu.edu.