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The Lambda Literary Awards turned 21 this week, “a twink no more,” quipped host Scott Nevins at the ceremony in New York Thursday night. An audience of 300 at the CUNY Graduate Center whooped for its favorite writers -- the poets and their admirers were by far the most vocal bunch -- as their names were called out by presenters.
Speaking of poets, the gay poetry category provided one of the evening’s highlights: One of the two tied winners, James Alan Hall, skipped across the stage to pick up the award for Now You’re the Enemy (University of Arkansas Press). The other winner that night was Hall’s former teacher, Mark Doty, who won for his collection Fire to Fire (Harper).
Another memorable moment was the presentation of the Pioneer awards to trans writer Leslie Feinberg, and to each of the three surviving members of Violet Quill writers’ group: Andrew Holleran, Felice Picano, and Edmund White. Although the group can’t agree the last time they were all gathered in one place, they did concur that initially they were more interested in the desserts they brought to those meetings than they were in writing. And they shared the virtue of taking their work more seriously than themselves: “We really have become The Golden Girls,” Holleran told me when the award was first announced a few weeks ago.
A number of speakers referred to grim news from the world of publishing and bookselling, and the Legacy Award was presented to the Oscar Wilde Bookshop, which closed in March, not long after 42 years of operation. Owner Kim Brinster said that while it “devastating” to shut down the store, she said she was confident that “our stories will find their way to those who want them, and those who need them.”
A complete list of winners will be posted at www.lambdaliterary.org.
-- Bruce Shenitz
Previously > NYC's Oscar Wilde Bookshop to close