Shawna Kay Rodenberg of Evansville, Indiana is the winner of the 2016 Jean Ritchie Fellowship in Appalachian Writing, awarded by Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) in Harrogate, Tenn. The prize is $1,500 and is awarded to an Appalachian writer who shows overwhelming promise in the continuation of great writing in the region.
Shawna Kay Rodenberg holds an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars. Her writing has appeared in The Village Voice, Salon, and many literary journals. She teaches English at a community college in eastern Kentucky, and is also a registered nurse and mother of five who lives on a goat farm in southern Indiana.
The fellowship is named in honor of Jean Ritchie, the award-winning musician and writer who died on June 2, 2015. Besides being an internationally known singer, songwriter, activist and musicologist, Ritchie was also the author of several books. Ritchie's best known work is Singing Family of the Cumberlands. The book has never been out of print since its 1955 publication and is known as one of the major classics in Appalachian literature.
This is the tenth year the fellowship has been awarded through LMU’s annual Mountain Heritage Literary Festival, which honors writers of the region like James Still and Jesse Stuart, both alums of LMU. The fellowship is funded by an anonymous donor, and the judging process is completely blind, with a panel of judges within the region choosing several finalists that are then sent out of state to a final judge.
Through literature, a region tells stories to its citizens and the world. The Jean Ritchie Fellowship seeks to support, encourage and honor writers from the Southern Appalachians.
The fellowship is the first of its kind for the region's writers, and is committed to Appalachian voices.
The fellowship strives to support artists who, like Ritchie, create works of beauty and social relevance, while honoring traditional heritage and forging a new path.
Award amount: $1,500
2008 - Mindy Beth Miller from Hazard, Kentucky.
2009 - Larry Bingham of Portland, Oregon
2010 - Katie Perry of Austin, Texas
2011 - Tiffany Williams of McRoberts, Kentucky
2012 - Amy Clark of Big Stone Gap, Virginia
2013 - Charles Dodd White of Candler, North Carolina
2014 - Mesha Maren of Alderson, West Virginia
2015 - Jim Minick, Georgia
Lincoln Memorial University
Cumberland Gap Parkway
P.O. Box 2005
Harrogate, TN 37752