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2015 Honorees

Marianne Boruch , National Winner

Marianne Boruch’s poetry collections include Cadaver, Speak (2014), The Book of Hours (2011), a Kingsley-Tufts Poetry Award winner, and Eventually One Dreams the Real Thing (2016) all from Copper Canyon Press. She is also the author of two essay collections, In the Blue Pharmacy (Trinity, 2005) and Poetry’s Old Air (Michigan, 1993), and a memoir, The Glimpse Traveler (Indiana, 2011) about hitchhiking in the early 70s. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, The New York Review of Books, American Poetry Review, London Review of Books, and elsewhere. Two of her poems have been chosen for Best American Poetry and four have received Pushcart Prizes.

A 2012 Fulbright/Visiting Professor in Scotland’s University of Edinburgh, she is a Professor of English at Purdue and was the founding Director of the MFA Program in Creative Writing. She and her husband, David Dunlap, have lived in West Lafayette where they raised their son.

Adrian Matejka, Regional Winner

Adrian Matejka is a graduate of Pike High School in Indianapolis and Indiana University in Bloomington. He earned his MFA in creative writing at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. His first collection of poems, The Devil’s Garden, won the 2002 New York / New England Award from Alice James Books. Mixology was a winner of the 2008 National Poetry Series and was also a finalist for a NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literature – Poetry. The Big Smoke was awarded the 2014 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and was also a finalist for the 2013 National Book Award, the 2014 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award and the 2014 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. He is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Lannan Foundation and also served as Indiana’s Poet Laureate.

Clifford Garstang, Emerging Winner

Clifford Garstang is the author of What the Zhang Boys Know, which won the 2013 Library of Virginia Award for Fiction, and the prize-winning short story collection In an Uncharted Country. He is the editor of Everywhere Stories: Short Fiction from a Small Planet, an anthology with three volumes.

After receiving a BA in Philosophy from Northwestern University, Clifford served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in South Korea. He then earned an MA in English and a JD, magna cum laude, both from Indiana University, and practiced international law. Subsequently, he earned a Master of Public Administration from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. In 2003 he received an MFA in fiction from Queens University of Charlotte. He currently lives in Virginia. For more information, visit

Laura Bates, Emerging Finalist

Laura Bates has a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in Comparative Literature, with a focus on Shakespeare studies. She is Professor of English at Indiana State University, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on Shakespeare and world literature.

For more than twenty-five years she has also taught throughout the Indiana state prison system. She created the world’s first Shakespeare program in supermax—the long-term solitary confinement unit. Her prison work has been featured in local and national media, including two segments on MSNBC-TV’s Lock Up.

Her first book chronicled these prison experiences: Shakespeare Saved My Life: Ten Years in Solitary with the Bard (Sourcebooks, 2013). The book received positive reviews as well as national and international recognition, from Kirkus and Publishers Weekly to National Geographic and Huffington Post

Skila Brown, Emerging finalist

Skila Brown is the author of Caminar, a novel in verse set in 1981 Guatemala, about a boy who survives the massacre of his village and must decide what being a man during a time of war really means. Her other books include To Stay Alive: Mary Ann Graves and the Tragic Journey of the Donner Party and picture books Clackety Track and Slickety Quick: Poems About Sharks, all from Candlewick Press. She holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She grew up in Kentucky and Tennessee, lived for a bit in Guatemala, and now resides with her family in Indiana. For more information, visit