Heather Christle and Ben Lerner Win Believer Awards

The Believer's May issue has arrived, and with it, the announcement of the magazine's literary awards for books of poetry and fiction published in 2011. The honors are given annually for poetry collections deemed by the magazine's editors to be "the finest and most deserving of greater recognition" and novels and short story collections that are the "strongest and most underappreciated of the year."

Massachusetts poet Heather Christle takes the second annual Believer Poetry Award for The Trees The Trees (Octopus Books), her "casually incandescent second collection." (Her third book, What Is Amazing, was released by Wesleyan University Press this past February.)

Author of three poetry collections himself, New York City author Ben Lerner receives the seventh annual Believer Book Award in fiction for his "hilarious and sensitive" debut novel, Leaving the Atocha Station (Coffee House Press). The book, which made it onto a number of best-of lists last year, was also a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction and the Young Lions Fiction Award given by the New York Public Library.

Along with the winner announcements, the Believer also released a list of the books most nominated for shout-outs in its readers survey. Coming out on top in poetry are Tracy K. Smith's Pulitzer Prize-winning collection, Life on Mars (Graywolf Press), Dean Young's Fall Higher (Copper Canyon Press), and Carl Phillips's Double Shadow (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), which won this year's Los Angeles Times Book Prize in poetry. In fiction, readers' most frequent picks were The Art of Fielding (Little, Brown) by Chad Harbach, Pulitzer-nominated Swamplandia! (Knopf) by Karen Russell, and The Sisters Brothers (Ecco) by Patrick deWitt. The full account (summer reading list, anyone?) is posted on the Believer's website.

In the video below, Christle reads from her winning book at the Stain of Poetry reading series in New York City.