2011 Finalist Judges

Eric Bates
ERIC BATES is executive editor of Rolling Stone, where he oversees the magazine’s feature writing and political reporting. He previously served as investigative editor of Mother Jones and editor-in-chief of Southern Exposure, the region’s leading political journal.

His work as an editor and reporter has received many of journalism’s top honors, including seven National Magazine Awards. He has served as a visiting lecturer at Duke University and a trustee of Antioch College.


Ron Carlson
RON CARLSON is the director of the Graduate Program in Fiction at the University of California, Irvine. His most recent book is the novel The Signal from Viking. His short stories have appeared in Esquire, Harpers, The New Yorker, and other journals, as well as The Best American Short Stories, The O'Henry Prize Series, The Pushcart Prize Anthology, The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction and other anthologies.

Ron Carlson Writes a Story, his book on writing is taught widely. He has been awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, the Cohen Prize at Ploughshares, the McGinnis Award at the Iowa Review, the Aspen Literary Award, and his novel Five Skies was One Book Rhode Island in 2009.


Kenneth A. McClaney
KEN MCCLANE, is the W.E.B. Du Bois Professor of Literature and a Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow at Cornell University, where he has taught English, African American literature, and Creative Writing for 34 years. He is the author of eight poetry collections, Out Beyond the Bay; Moons and Low Times; At Winter's End; To Hear the River; A Tree Beyond Telling: Poems Selected and New; These Halves Are Whole; and Take Five: Collected Poems, 1971-1986. In 1992 he published a volume of personal essays, Walls: Essays 1985-1990. A new essay collection, Color: Essays on Race, Family, and History appeared in 2009 from the University of Notre Dame Press. The University of Notre Dame Press reprinted Walls, with a new introduction, in 2010.

Professor McClane's poetry and essays have appeared in many anthologies, including The Story and Its Writer, The Best African American Essays; The Art of the Essay; Bearing Witness: Selections from African-American Autobiography in the Twentieth Century; The Anatomy of Memory; Sturdy Black Bridges: Visions of Black Woman in Literature; The Jazz Poetry Anthology; The New Cavalcade; You've Got to Read This; and Trouble the Water: 250 Years of African-American Poetry. His essay "Walls” was selected for The Best American Essays 1988 and The Best American Essays (college edition) volumes. McClane’s introduction to James Baldwin's novella, "Sonny's Blues,” was broadcast on PBS in its GED Connection Series and he appears in a recent BBC documentary on Vladimir Nabokov. In 2002 he received the Distinguished Prose Award from the Antioch Review for his essays published in the magazine since 1985; in 2010, his collection Color: Essays on Race, Family, and History was awarded the Gold Medal for the best book of essays published in 2009 by Foreword Reviews Magazine.

Mr. McClane has been a visiting professor at Colby College, Williams College, where he was a Henry Luce Visiting Professor, Washington University (St. Louis), and a Dr. Martin Luther King Distinguished Professor at the University of Michigan and at Wayne State University. He has served on the Board of Trustees of Adelphi University, and on the Board of Directors of the Tompkins County Library Foundation, the Constance Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts, the New York Council for the Humanities, and the Tompkins County Community Foundation, where he was a Founding Board Member.


April Smith
APRIL SMITH is the author of the critically acclaimed FBI Special Agent Ana Grey novels -- North of Montana (featured in TIME), Good Morning, Killer (“Critic’s Choice” -- PEOPLE Magazine), Judas Horse (starred reviews, Kirkus and Publisher's Weekly), and White Shotgun, to be published in hardcover June 21, 2011. She has also written a standalone thriller, Be the One, about the only female baseball scout in the major leagues. April is currently working on another Ana Grey novel and she is the writer and executive producer of Good Morning, Killer, a two-hour movie for TNT based on her novel of the same name. She is published by Alfred A. Knopf and Vintage Crime/Black Lizard. Her books are also available as e-books.

April Smith was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. She graduated from the Bronx High School of Science, Boston University cum laude and With Distinction in English Literature, and Stanford University, from which she holds a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing. Aside from writing novels, April is a successful television writer/producer, having produced and written for award-winning dramatic series such as Cagney and Lacey and Chicago Hope, mini-series, and movies of the week, including TV adaptations of The Taking of Pelham One, Two, Three and Anna Quindlen’s Black and Blue. Her most recent credit is the Stephen King mini-series, Nightmares and Dreamscapes, for TNT. She has received three Emmy Award nominations and two Writer’s Guild Award nominations. For more information, go to www.aprilsmith.net.



Implementation and ongoing support by Digital Stationery International, LLC