On February 7, 2008, Essence magazine will hold its first literary awards ceremony in New York City. Yesterday the lifestyle magazine for African American women announced the finalists in nine categories, including inspiration, nonfiction, current affairs, and photography. The following are the finalists in poetry, fiction, and memoir:
Duende (Graywolf) by Tracy K. Smith
Acolytes (Morrow) by Nikki Giovanni
Totem (American Poetry Review) by Gregory Pardlo
Red River (Grand Central) by Lalita Tademy
Casanegra (Atria) by Blair Underwood, Steven Barnes, and Tananarive
The Pirate’s Daughter (Unbridled) by Margaret Cezair-Thompson
New England White (Knopf) by Stephen L. Carter
Knots (Riverhead) by Nuruddin Farah
Brother, I’m Dying (Knopf) by Edwidge Danticat
The Women Who Raised Me (Morrow) by Victoria Rowell
Alek (Amistad) by Alek Wek
One Drop (Little, Brown) by Bliss Broyard
A Long Way Gone (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) by Ishmael Beah
The winners in eight categories will be chosen by a panel of publishing experts. Essence readers can vote for the winner in a ninth category, Storyteller of the Year. The finalists are Eric Jerome Dickey, Lorie Bryant-Woolridge, Trisha R. Thomas, L. A. Banks, and Tananarive Due.
Best-selling author Terry McMillan will also receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at the ceremony in February, and the Countee Cullen Regional Library in Harlem will be the first recipient of the magazine's Save Our Libraries Campaign.