Four Ashlanders have been honored with special Oregon Book Awards and fellowships from Literary Arts for 2014.
The Stewart H. Holbrook Literary Legacy Award went to Vince and Patty Wixon for their decades of work promoting books, writing and literary events in Southern Oregon.
Nomination for the Oregon Book Awards, along with a list of those who have received special recognition, can be found online at http://bit.ly/1chMC3q.
Two $2,500 fellowships went to Southern Oregon University Professor Robert Arellano, author of six novels, and to children's author Anjie Seewer Reynolds, to finish her book on two kids of different colors — blue and black — having a friendship in the South half a century ago.
The awards are sponsored annually by the Oregon Arts Commission and Oregon Cultural Trust. They will be awarded March 17 in Portland, when the winners of the book awards in the competitive categories will be announced.
Kelly Moore, Larkin Reed and Tucker Reed of Jacksonville have been nominated for the Leslie Bradshaw Award for Young Adult Literature for their book "Amber House."
The Wixons are poets and were nominated by Oregon Poet Laureate Paulann Petersen, who in her nominating letter said they were "at the hub of literary arts ... using their remarkable vision and energy to benefit Southern Oregon's literary community."
Their efforts include organizing the annual Ashland Book and Author Festival hosted by Friends of Hannon Library, judging the "As Time Goes By" poetry contest for poems on aging, organizing the annual William Stafford reading at SOU and serving on the board of Chautauqua Poets & Writers, which brings many noted poets to the valley.
"Many people think of Oregon literary arts as existing only in the Portland metro area and the Willamette Valley," noted Petersen. "The accomplishments of the Wixons prove that notion wrong. Southern Oregon, and thus all of Oregon, is richer because the Wixons are advocates for the literary arts."
Arellano is director of SOU's Center for Emerging Media and author of the detective novel "Havana Lunar," a finalist in the Edgar Allen Poe mystery contest. A psychological "noir" book, it takes place in post-Soviet Cuba and features a protagonist who did not intend to fall into the role of detective, he says.
"This is a mid-life achievement award, not for any particular book," says Arellano, of his Leslie Bradshaw Fellowship.
"I'm blown away," says Arellano. "Four years after moving here with my family, it's really just hitting me as an author: Oregon embraces me."
With fellow creative writing professors Kasey Mohammad and Craig Wright, Arellano last year founded the Institute of New Writing / Ashland at Southern Oregon University. The summer venture is designed to attract tourists here as "the Northwest destination for literary inspiration."
Arellano also teaches an online course, "Writing the Novel," which has 60 members from all around the country.
Anjie Seewer Reynolds received the Edna L. Holmes Fellowship in Young Readers Literature for her unfinished manuscript "about a forbidden relationship in the 1960s in eastern Kentucky between two girls who are very different from everyone else — one black and one, because of genes, who has blue skin."
The thrust of the novel, says Reynolds, is that modern medicine turns the blue girl white, so she finds acceptance in the culture, but the black girl cannot change, so their friendship is tested.
Reynolds made a trip to the region at her own expense, but now she will be able to finance two more journeys to finish the book, which has been in progress for seven years.
"I feel thrilled," says Reynolds, a writing teacher at Rogue Community College.
The mission of Literary Arts is "to engage readers, support writers and inspire the next generation with great literature."
John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Email him at email@example.com.