Local poet Vernon honored with Tillie Olsen Award

Posted: Thursday, June 17, 2010

Jenifer Rae Vernon, author of the poetry debut, Rock Candy, has won the Tillie Olsen Award for Creative Writing. The Working Class Studies Association  grants the Tillie Olsen Award for the best published book that honors the “voices, experiences, and perspective of working-class people” in the genres of poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction. The award was presented at the “How Class Works” conference at SUNY Stony Brook, Long Island, June 3-5.

Vernon, assistant professor of communications at the University of Alaska Southeast, grew up in a big family in a small logging town in the Pacific Northwest. Vernon began writing poetry and prose in community college and self-published big chapbooks called Wild Ivy, Athalia and Stretch, which drew on her archive of poetry, prose, photography and interviews to explore religion, sexuality, gender and power issues.

A Washington native, Vernon holds a bachelor’s degree from Evergreen College, a master’s degree in International Studies from the University of Oregon, and a Ph.D. in Communications from the University of California, San Diego.

For more on Vernon’s work, visit www.westendpress.org.

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