The Colorado Book Awards annually celebrates Colorado’s outstanding literary achievement by commending the accomplishments of its authors, editors, illustrators, and photographers. In this free public reading, finalists will read from their work and attendees can pose questions. Select finalist books will be available for purchase at the readings and through Poor Richard’s Books & Gifts at poorrichardsdowntown.com.
Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers
Welcome to the Bizarre Bazaar – a collection of seventeen speculative stories that invite and beguile the reader to examine at fictions new and old in a fresh light. Fairy tales are reborn as sci-fi romps. Silly folklore matures with the weight of tradition to approach truth. And ghost stories teach us all we need to know about love. Moving from tale to reimagined tale, these deft transformations are mirrored in our hearts as we become the change we read. Join us as we guide you through a bewitching bazaar of stories you’ll find breathtaking and enchanting as we once again celebrate the best of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers is a non-profit, volunteer-run organization dedicated to supporting, encouraging, and educating writers seeking publication in fiction.
Even a city that boasts three hundred days of sunshine a year has its sudden, often violent storms—and writers have long taken advantage of that metaphor. Renowned authors Katherine Anne Porter, Jack Kerouac, Stephen King, Rex Burns, Robert Greer, Michael Connelly, and Kali Fajardo-Anstine—among many others—have brilliantly portrayed this picturesque but often merciless city. Today, Denver is home to a thriving literary scene, with writers of all stripes finding inspiration in its people and streets. The authors and stories featured in Denver Noir are no exception… Cynthia Swanson writes literary suspense, often using historical settings. Her debut novel, The Bookseller, was a New York Times best seller, an Indie Next selection, and the winner of the 2016 WILLA Literary Award for Historical Fiction. Swanson’s second novel, the USA Today best seller The Glass Forest, was noted in Forbes as being one of “Five Novels with a Remarkably Strong Sense of Place.” She lives with her family in Denver, Colorado.
The Long Devotion
Emily Pérez, Nancy Reddy
The Long Devotion is a collection of poems, essays, and writing prompts that celebrates motherhood and creates a space, as poet Molly Spencer has written, to “tell an unlovely truth about family life and not have to take it back.” The poets in this book represent and describe a wide range of experiences. They write about encountering the world anew through their children; intersections of parenting and race; single parenting; adoptive, foster, and step-parenting; life with chronic illness, mental illness, and disability; and the choice to remain childless. The book is divided into four parts. “Difficulty, Ambivalence, and Joy” considers the wonder and challenges of parenting-including infertility, pregnancy, miscarriage, and life with children-and trying to write in the midst of those demands. “The Body and the Brain” explores the cerebral and bodily labor of caregiving and writing. “In the World” brings parents and their children into contact with the natural and political landscape. Finally, “Transitions” looks at how parenting and writing change as children grow up. Poems range from linear narratives and imagistic lyric to poetry comics, speculative futures, and experimental forms. Essays and poems suggest ways to write through the disruptions and chaos of family life. Emily Pérez is an English and gender studies instructor and grade-level dean at Colorado Academy. She is the author of What Flies Want, winner of the Iowa Prize; House of Sugar, House of Stone; and the chapbooks Backyard Migration Route and Made and Unmade. She lives in Denver, Colorado. Nancy Reddy is associate professor of writing and first-year studies at Stockton University. She is the author of Pocket Universe, Double Jinx, a 2014 winner of the National Poetry Series, and the chapbook Acadiana. She lives in Collingswood, New Jersey.
Literary Fiction Finalists
Any Other Family
Though they look like any other family, they aren’t one—not quite. They are three sets of parents who find themselves intertwined after adopting four biological siblings, having committed to keeping the children as connected as possible. At the heart of the family, the adoptive mothers grapple to define themselves and their new roles. Tabitha, who adopted the twins, crowns herself planner of the group, responsible for endless playdates and holidays, determined to create a perfect happy family. Quiet and steady Ginger, single mother to the eldest daughter, is wary of the way these complicated not-fully-family relationships test her long held boundaries. And Elizabeth, still reeling from rounds of failed IVF, is terrified that her unhappiness after adopting a newborn means she was not meant to be a mother at all. As they set out on their first family vacation, all three are pushed into uncomfortably close quarters. And when they receive a call from their children’s birth mother announcing she is pregnant again, the delicate bonds the women are struggling to form threaten to collapse as they each must consider how a family is found and formed. Eleanor Brown is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels The Weird Sisters and The Light of Paris, and the editor of the anthology A Paris All Your Own. An adoptive mother herself, Eleanor lives with her family in Colorado.
Linked stories trace the vocational and emotional bargains made by workers at a Colorado sausage factory. It’s almost a decade after the Great Recession, and in Colorado, St. Anthony Sausage has not recovered. Neither have its employees: a laid-off railway engineer, an exiled computer whiz, a young woman estranged from her infant daughter, an older man with cancer who lacks health care. As these low-wage workers interact under the supervision of the factory’s owner and his quietly rebellious daughter, they come to understand that in America’s postindustrial landscape, although they may help or comfort each other, they also have to do what’s best for themselves. Over the course of these twelve interrelated stories, Rachel King gives life to diverse, complex, and authentic characters who are linked through the sausage factory and through their daily lives in a vividly rendered small town in Boulder County. The internal and external struggles of Bratwurst Haven’s population are immediately and intimately relatable and resonant: these people seek answers within the world they inhabit while questioning what it means to want more from their lives. Rachel King is the author of the novel People along the Sand. Her short stories have appeared in One Story, North American Review, Green Mountains Review, Northwest Review, and elsewhere. A graduate of the University of Oregon and West Virginia University, she lives in her hometown of Portland, Oregon.
Nathan Ashcraft knew this morning wasn’t going to be easy. After all, he’s the town funeral director, and he’s coming to work early to meet two grieving parents whose baby was stillborn. The meeting fills him with dread and anticipation because the baby’s father, Steve, was his high school crush, and they haven’t seen each other in almost thirty years. What Nathan doesn’t know is how the child’s death connects him to other people in town, especially Tim Sawyer, the local dentist and Nathan’s recent infatuation, and Sarah Lawrence, a retired high school biology teacher whose good intentions almost destroyed his life decades ago. These three people will face their own moment of crisis today, sparking self-reflection and self-doubt, despair and regret that drive them toward their own drastic resolutions and confessions. But in the end, is confession really good for the soul? Sean Eads has published three novels and a short story collection, and has been a finalist for the Shirley Jackson Award, Lambda Literary Award, and Colorado Book Award. His stories have appeared in numerous anthologies.
Katherine Indermaur’s full-length debut, I|I, is a serial lyric essay that explores the mirror’s many dimensions—philosophical, spiritual, scientific, mythological, historical—alongside the author’s own experiences. Anyone who has struggled with the disconnect between their outward appearance and their inner self knows how fraught and fragmentary it can be to behold one’s own reflection. Indermaur’s essay, however, does more than merely problematize the contested space where the face and the mirror meet. There is also affirmation to be found here. This is a book that thinks so keenly it breaks into song. Katherine Indermaur is the author of two chapbooks and an editor for Sugar House Review. She is the winner of the Black Warrior Review 2019 Poetry Contest and the 2018 Academy of American Poets Prize, runner-up in the 92Y’s 2020 Discovery Poetry Contest, and has been nominated for Best of the Net. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Alpinist, Coast|noCoast, Ecotone, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from Colorado State University and lives in Fort Collins with her family.
What Flies Want
In What Flies Want, disaster looms in domesticity: a family grapples with its members’ mental health, a marriage falters, and a child experiments with self-harm. With its backdrop of school lockdown drills, #MeToo, and increasing political polarization, the collection asks how these private and public tensions are interconnected. The speaker, who grew up in a bicultural family on the U.S./Mexico border, learns she must play a role in a culture that prizes whiteness, patriarchy, and chauvinism. As an adult she oscillates between performed confidence and obedience. As a wife, she bristles against the expectations of emotional labor. As a mother, she attempts to direct her white male children away from the toxic power they are positioned to inherit, only to find how deeply she is also implicated in these systems. Tangled in a family history of depression, a society fixated on guns, a rocky relationship, and her own desire to ignore and deny the problems she must face, this is a speaker who is by turns defiant, defeated, self-implicating, and hopeful. Emily Pérez is author of House of Sugar, House of Stone and coedited The Long Devotion: Poets Writing Motherhood. She works as a high school teacher and dean, and lives in Denver, Colorado.
You Better Be Lightning
You Better Be Lightning by Andrea Gibson is a queer, political, and feminist collection guided by self-reflection. The poems range from close examination of the deeply personal to the vastness of the world, exploring the expansiveness of the human experience from love to illness, from space to climate change, and so much more in between. One of the most celebrated poets and performers of the last two decades, Andrea Gibson’s trademark honesty and vulnerability are on full display in You Better Be Lightning, welcoming and inviting readers to be just as they are. Andrea Gibson (they/them/theirs) is a queer author of five full-length collections of poetry, including Lord of the Butterflies which sold over 20,000 copies worldwide. Winner of The Independent Publishers Award in 2019, Andrea is also a three-time Goodreads Choice Awards Finalist. In 2017, Penguin Books published Take Me With You, an illustrated collection of Gibson’s most beloved quotes, and in 2019, Chronicle books published their first non-fiction endeavor, How Poetry Can Change Your Heart. The winner of the first Women’s World Poetry Slam, Gibson has gone on to be featured on BBC, Air America, CSpan, and regularly sells out large capacity venues all over the world. Gibson has also released seven full length albums of spoken word.