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Local authors named OBA finalists

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Edwin Battistella
Melissa Matthewson
Anna Elkins
Oregon Book Award honorees include SOU professors

Three Southern Oregon authors were named Oregon Book Awards finalists Monday, including two Southern Oregon University professors.

Winners in each of the seven categories will be announced during an episode of “The Archive Project,” May 2 on OPB Radio. Winners receive a $1,000 cash award.

Edwin Battistella, who teaches linguistics and writing at SOU, is a finalist for the Frances Fuller Victor Award for General Nonfiction for his book, “Dangerous Crooked Scoundrels: Insulting the President, from Washington to Trump,” published by Oxford University Press. “Dangerous Crooked Scoundrels” is the seventh book written by Battistella, who lives in Ashland.

Melissa Matthewson, who teaches writing and literature at SOU and lives in Ashland, is a finalist for the Sarah Winnemucca Award for Creative Nonfiction for her book, “Tracing the Desire Line: A Memoir in Essays.”

Anna Elkins of Jacksonville is a finalist for the Stafford/Hall Award for Poetry for her 92-page collection, “Hope of Stones.”

The 35 finalists were selected by a panel of out-of-state writers in the categories of fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, general nonfiction, children’s literature, young adult literature and drama.

“Dangerous Crooked Scoundrels,” which is available on Amazon, is an exploration of insults in politics. According to a starred review by Library Journal, Battistella’s book “reveals how insults have always been a part of American politics.”

In the first chapter, Battistella breaks down the many forms a political insult can take while bouncing around different eras in American history. “Even a simple party label can be turned around,” he writes. “In the 1960 presidential election, after Richard Nixon had called John F. Kennedy an ‘economic ignoramus’ and a ‘Pied Piper,’ Kennedy quipped, ‘I just confine myself to calling him a Republican, but he says that is getting low.’”

“Tracing the Desire Line,” published by Split Lip Press, is available on Amazon and splitlippress.com. According to the description on Amazon, the 232-page story is told through short memoirs, essays, lists, letters and hybrid prose poems and “is an intimate inquiry into one woman’s search for autonomy with detours into meditations on music, motherhood, religion, love and wildness.”

Elkins’ “Hope of Stones,” published by Press 53, can be purchased at press53.com and Amazon. It is her sixth book. According to a description of the book on Elkins’ website, “Hope of Stones” invites readers into a cross-century conversation “among The Nun, The Architect, and The Poet that explores the desire to create and connect across time and other unseen things.”