Print might be a dying media, but when it comes to celebrating Austin’s literary geniuses, the time is now, says Tim Staley, executive director of Austin Public Library Friends Foundation.
The Foundation will honor a handful of Austin’s best writers with its inaugural Illumine Awards and fundraising event Friday, November 18th.
“Austin has a growing literary scene, and we feel that it’s incumbent upon the Library Foundation in particular to recognize that and to acknowledge some of the individuals who are part of that scene,” Staley says.
The first-ever Illumine Awards will honor the following Austin-based recipients in five categories:
- Fiction: Dagoberto Gilb, whose book The Magic of Blood earned a PEN/Hemingway Award. His work appeared recently in Harper’s, The New Yorker and Callaloo.
- Non-Fiction: Gregory Curtis, an award-winning magazine author and editor. He was editor of Texas Monthly from 1981-2000 and has written for The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Time and Fortune.
- Emerging Author: Carrie Fountain, former poetry columnist for the Austin American-Statesman and poetry teacher at St. Edward’s University.
- Songwriting: Jimmie Dale Gilmore. The longtime musician collaborated with The Wronglers on their 2011 album Heirloom Music.
- Luminary Award (Literary Patron Honoree): Marc Winkelman, CEO and co-founder of Calendar Club, part owner of Kirkus Reviews and part-owner of Tecolote Books in Montecito, Calif.
“All five of our honorees play a significant role not just in the Austin literary scene, but they’re national figures,” Staley says of the winners, who were selected by a panel made up of members of various libraries and the Foundation.
Books sales are struggling, but literature is still a thriving form of art, Staley says. In fact, virtual reading may be helping authors gain exposure.
A recent Pew Internet Project report showed that the use of e-readers doubled in the U.S. from six percent in November 2010 to 12 percent in May 2011. And while this statistic might not bode well for libraries—the last bastion of paper books—Stanley counters that, thanks to the online services and career resources they provide, libraries are more popular than ever.
“The American public library is being used more now than it ever has been,” he says.
The inaugural Illumine Awards will take place Friday, November 18th, from 7 - 10 p.m. at the Hilton Downtown Austin (500 East Fourth Street). Jake Silverstein, Texas Monthly editor and author of Nothing Happened and Then It Did, will emcee the event. Tickets range from $125 (individual seat) to $5,000 (sponsored table).
For more information, call 512-542-0076 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.