Elizabeth Gentry awarded emerging writer’s residency

Lake Forest College is pleased to recognize fiction writer Elizabeth Gentry as the fourth winner of the Madeleine P. Plonsker Emerging Writer’s Residency Prize, awarded annually.

Gentry will be in residence on the campus of Lake Forest College from February 1 to March 31, 2012, where she will work to complete her winning manuscript, Housebound. She will receive $10,000 and, upon editorial approval, the finished book will be published by the &NOW Books imprint of Lake Forest College Press, with distribution by Northwestern University Press. She will also take part in the Lake Forest Literary Festival and offer a series of public presentations while in residence at the College.

Gentry completed an MFA in fiction writing at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 1998. Following graduation, she served as the Randolph-Macon Woman’s College Young Writer-in- Residence. Originally from Asheville, North Carolina, she has lived in Knoxville, Tennessee, for twelve years. She currently works as Writing Specialist for the UT College of Law and teaches writing and literature for the University English Department. “In Exchange,” an excerpt from a novel-in-submission, was published in Confrontation in 2008. An essay entitled “Appetites of the Natural World” was published in 2010 in So to Speak.

The Madeleine P. Plonsker Emerging Writer’s Residency Prize is awarded to an author under forty years old with no major book publication. This year the winner was selected by guest judge Kate Bernheimer, author of four books of fiction and editor of the anthology My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me: Forty New Fairy Tales.

About Gentry’s winning manuscript, Kate Bernheimer writes, “Among the manuscripts, I kept returning over and over again to one, or rather I found I quite could not get out of it once I got in; I was Housebound inside its pages, just as its characters were. Its syntax and nouns are hypnotic! In this domestic heaven or hell, there are ‘no more anecdotes, poetry recitations, ghost stories, contrived games, or late-night disclosures before the wood stove.’ And yet there is nothing but. Here, secrets crisscross through walls as through hours, and words travel in creepy, kind whispers (I saw a toy shop). Grown children run through the woods and enter strange houses. They live over here and over there—all over the terrible and beautiful map. Crime scene, children’s book, family romance? A masterful, miniature, paradox world. So many surging demands on dear Maggie, this story’s main girl. Oh, horrible danger must lurk for her—or something much worse, and prettier still, something that goes back much further than time. The first thirtypages of Housebound kept me spellbound. I simply can’t wait to read the rest of the book.”

The Madeleine P. Plonsker Emerging Writer’s Residency Prize is made possible by a donation from a local philanthropist who was impressed by the College’s recently established publishing enterprise, Lake Forest College Press / &NOW Books. The previous winners are Jessica Savitz, author of Hunting Is Painting, a book of poetry now available; Gretchen Henderson, whose work of fiction Galerie de Difformité will be published in Fall 2011; and José Perez Beduya, whose book of poems Throng will be published in 2012. The series editor is Joshua Corey.

The 2012-2013 Plonsker Prize will be awarded to a poet under forty years of age who has not yet published a full-length book. Poets interested in applying should send a curriculum vita, no more than 30 pages of a manuscript in progress, and a one-page statement of plans for completion to: Plonsker Residency, Department of English, Lake Forest College, Box A16, 555 N. Sheridan Road, Lake Forest, IL 60045. Submissions must be postmarked by April 1, 2012 for consideration by editors Robert Archambeau, Davis Schneiderman, and Joshua Corey. The final judge will be announced later. Please send direct inquiries to andnow@lakeforest.edu with the subject line: Plonsker Prize.

The 2011-2012 Madeleine P. Plonsker Emerging Writer’s Residency Prize Finalists and Semifinalists:

Winner: Elizabeth Gentry, Knoxville, TN: Housebound Finalists (in alphabetical order):

Lena Bertone, Liverpool, NY: La Revengista Lindsey Drager, Champaign, IL: The Sorrow Paper Elise Pollard, Davis, CA: The Worry of Our Dreams

Semifinalists (in alphabetical order):

July Cole, Oakland, CA: Rat Gabe Durham, Nashville, TN: Fun Camp Jennifer Stockdale, Notre Dame, IN: Pink Eye