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U. of I. English professor wins $25,000 writing award

9/9/2009 | Melissa Mitchell, News Editor | 217-333-5491;

[ Email | Share ] CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – University of Illinois English professor Janice N. Harrington is one of six recipients of the 2009 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Awards.

Janice Harrington
Janice Harrington

The $25,000 prize, awarded by the foundation annually to six female writers who “demonstrate excellence and promise in the early stages of their careers,” will be presented Sept. 24 in New York City.

The awards program, which recognizes writers of fiction, non-fiction and poetry, was established in 1995 by novelist Rona Jaffe (1931-2005). It is the only national literary awards program of its kind dedicated exclusively to the support of female writers.

“Rona Jaffe’s legacy is the real story,” said Harrington. “She’s enabled women to pursue their goals as artists. The award is not only an honor, but also a challenge to meet Jaffe’s high standard, and to make a difference in the lives of others.

“I’m grateful for this opportunity, and send my congratulations to the other women who also received the Rona Jaffe award for 2009.”

The other five winners are Krista Bremer, Vievee Francis, Lori Ostlund, Helen Phillips and Heidy Steidlmayer.

Harrington’s first book of poems, “Even the Hollow My Body Made is Gone,” was published in 2007. It received the A. Poulin Jr. Poetry Prize in 2006 and the 2008 Kate Tufts Discovery Award.

Her poetry also has appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, Crab Orchard Review, Field, Harvard Review and other journals.

Harrington, whose work has been supported by fellowships from Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Cave Canem and the National Endowment for the Arts, plans to use her Jaffe award to finish “Night Shift,” a collection of poems based on her experience working as a nurse’s aide in nursing homes in Nebraska. She also is working on a poetry manuscript on Horace H. Pippin, an African American folk artist who created his work in the 1930s and ’40s.

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