The 2015 Dan’s Papers Literary Prize announced the addition of a new category – The Emerging Writers. Created for 25 years old and under, this award totals $4000, with the winner receiving $3000 and two runner-ups will receive $500 each.
The original Dan’s Literary prize will continue for all ages and offers prizes that total $6000. There are two runner-up prizes of $500 each, and the first prize of $5,000.
Also, the Judges’ Choice Awards will be made where each judge selects a favorite essay and those winners are acknowledged at the awards ceremony.
We have judges who independently read and judge all the entries. They have included the owner of a large bookstore chain, the cofounder of a book publishing firm, the president of an ad agency, a book reviewer, a celebrated mystery writer, a college English professor and a radio commentator.
All winners will be presented at an exciting awards ceremony at the John Drew Theater at Guild Hall Thursday, September 3rd from 5pm to 7pm. In addition to the monetary prizes, trophies will be awarded to the winners. Special entertainment, and a key note speaker will highlight the event and special celebrities will read the winning entries.
All entries must be original works of nonfiction between 600 and 1500 words, and they must include references to the East End in a meaningful way. Entry fees is $25 per entry and one person can enter three. Entrants are accepted between February 15th and August 15th. They can be reminiscences, memoirs, biographies, humor, history, family legends or anything else that fits the category of nonfiction (but no poetry).
In the early evening of August 24, as storm clouds gathered over East Hampton and the rain began, those in this community interested in the Dan’s Papers Literary Prize for Non-Fiction finally learned who won the $5,000 first prize. They assembled in the 350 seat John Drew Theatre in East Hampton, and for a time they listened to Caroline Doctorow sing to them from the stage as those running the Literary Prize award ceremony prepared the evening. It would all unfold beginning at 8 pm.
It was surprising how much had gone into keeping the names of these winners secret. The nearly 400 entries had all been received, a great flurry of more than a hundred of them just before the July 31 deadline, they had gone out to the judges and been scored. I then tallied the results. And so I knew by August 10. But I wasn’t telling anybody. Except for Ellen deGuardi, Marketing Director at Dan’s Papers, who oversaw the creation of the winning trophy and the framed runners up certificates.
While Caroline played, people in the audience could have read the full name of the winner on the brass plaque attached to the trophy on a table onstage. But it was covered with masking tape. Backstage, the framed runner up awards with the winners names were upside down on a table. Even the presenters would not know who won until they opened the sealed envelopes.
Now it was time. As Carolyn finished her last song, I came onstage and explained how this contest had come about. We had been honoring artists in this community with artwork on the covers of Dan’s Papers for twenty five years. Now we were honoring the writers. The entries had to be between 600 and 1500 words, had to reference eastern Long Island in meaningful ways, and had to be non-fiction: biographies, memories, memoirs, reporting, histories.
I next introduced National Book Award author E. L. Doctorow, who came to the podium and presented a learned speech about both fiction and non-fiction, talking about the passion involved in writing and the need to do it if you feel that passion. He cited examples of different authors in history who had produced works in either one or the other mode or both.
When Mr. Doctorow finished, I introduced Joan Baum, one of this community’s best known book reviewers, and she opened the envelope and announced that the winner for first runner up was Eve Eliot for her story “Why the East End is an Excellent Place to Die.” Eve came up to the stage and accepted the framed certificate, a cash award of $500 and a gift Nook from Barnes & Noble, the company that provided major funding for the prize, and then spoke to the crowd.
Second runner up, presented by former ad agency President and Sag Harbor Express columnist James Marquardt, went to Joe Carson for “The Naked Kingdom.”
And the grand prize, $5,000 and the trophy, went to Springs resident Susan Duff for “Moving Through Water.”
Emmy award winning broadcaster Pia Lindstrom then came out and, sitting on a stool stage left, slowly and movingly read“Moving Through Water” aloud to the audience.
And so it ended, with Caroline Doctorow on stage again to sing the audience, the winners and the partipants out to the lobby for wine and cheese and from there out into the rain.
Besides Barnes & Noble, this event was sponsored by Hampton Jitney, Bridgehampton National Bank, Southampton Inn, Ben Krupinski Builders, cable network Discovery America, Southampton Mini, Audi Southampton, BMW of Southampton and Porsche of Southampton.