Two UNCA faculty members win literature awards

Press release

From UNC Asheville News Services

Richard Chess and Katherine Min of UNC Asheville’s literature faculty were both awarded prestigious honors this fall semester. Chess was named Western Region Distinguished Poet by the North Carolina Poetry Society and its Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poet Series. Min was named the winner of the Sherwood Anderson Foundation Fiction Award.

Katherine Min – Sherwood Anderson Fiction Award Winner

Katherine Min was awarded the Sherwood Anderson Foundation Fiction Award for 2012. The competition judges selected Min’s fiction “for its wisdom, its insight into human nature, and its fresh, surprising, yet unaffected language. In short, hers is entirely brilliant writing – prose that’s not only memorable, but also necessary.”

Min is the author of the novel, “Secondhand World” (Alfred A. Knopf, 2006) and many short stories published in numerous publications and anthologies. She has also won awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, fellowships from the North Carolina and New Hampshire State Arts Councils and a Pushcart Prize. Min is assistant professor of literature and language at UNC Asheville.

In addition to her teaching, Min is hard at work to complete a second novel. “”Writing a novel is a solitary activity, and one of long duration and it’s hard to keep one’s spirits up as the enterprise demands more and more of your time and effort,” says Min. “I am very grateful to the Sherwood Anderson Foundation for their double generosity–for the financial award, which will help to support the finishing of my novel, ‘The Fetishist,’ and for the gift of their belief in the work, which will sustain me during the months of revision that lie ahead.”

The Sherwood Anderson Foundation was founded by the late American author’s family to support writers. During his lifetime, Anderson had helped both William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway get published. Previous Sherwood Anderson Fiction Award winners include Ron Rash and the current Poet Laureate of North Carolina, Joseph Bathanti.

Richard Chess – Western Region Distinguished Poet

The North Carolina Poetry Society describes its new Western Region Distinguished Poet, Richard Chess, as an “award-winning much-sought after teacher.” As Western Region Distinguished Poet, Chess will be literary mentor to three student poets and one adult poet; the resulting works by the four poets will be presented at Western Carolina University’s annual Literary Festival and at readings at area libraries.

“It’s a great honor to be given this opportunity to share my love of poetry with four terrific poets, including a seventh grader from The Odyssey Community School, a junior from Asheville High School, an undergraduate from Lenoir Rhyne, and a professional flutist/poet/writer from Bakersville,” said Chess. “I hope I will be able to help each of these poets in some small ways to deepen their practice of poetry.”

Chess is the author of three books of poetry, “Third Temple” (2007), “Chair in the Desert” (2000), and “Tekiah” (1994). His poems have appeared in many journals as well as several anthologies, including “Bearing the Mystery: 25 Years of Image, Best American Spiritual Writing 2005,” and “Telling and Remembering: A Century of American-Jewish Poetry.” Chess is UNC Asheville’s Roy Carroll Professor of Honors Arts and Sciences and professor of literature and language. He also directs the university’s Center for Jewish Studies.


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