SPOKANE, Wash. – Shann Ferch, professor of leadership in Gonzaga University’s Doctoral Program in Leadership Studies, has won the prestigious 2010 Katharine Nason Bakeless Literary Publication Prize, for his collection of short stories entitled: “American Masculine: Montana Stories.”
The collection will be published in 2011 through contract with Graywolf Press with Ferch’s pen name Shann Ray. Since 1926 the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference has convened every August in the shadow of Bread Loaf Mountain, in Vermont’s Green Mountains, where Middlebury College maintains a summer campus. The conference, founded by Robert Frost and Willa Cather – a generation before creative writing became a popular course of study – brings together established poets and prose writers, editors, and literary agents to work with writers at various stages of their careers.
While part of Bread Loaf’s reputation was built on the writers associated with it – W. H. Auden, Wallace Stegner, Katherine Anne Porter, Toni Morrison, and Adrienne Rich, to name a few – it has an equally high reputation for finding and supporting writers of promise in the earliest stages of their careers. Eudora Welty, Carson McCullers, Anne Sexton, May Swenson, Russel Banks, Joan Didion, Richard Ford, Julia Alvarez, Carolyn Forché, Linda Pastan, Ellen Bryant Voigt, Andrea Barrett, and Tim O’Brien are some of the poets, novelists, and short story writers who benefited from early associations with Bread Loaf.
There are many obstacles to a successful literary career, but none is more difficult to overcome than the publication of a first book. The Katharine Bakeless Nason Literary Publication Prizes were established in 1995 to expand Bread Loaf’s commitment to the support of emerging writers. Endowed by the LZ Francis Foundation, whose directors wished to commemorate Middlebury College patron Katharine Bakeless Nason and to encourage emerging writers, the Bakeless Prizes launch the publication career of a poet, fiction writer, and creative nonfiction writer annually. Winning manuscripts are chosen in an open national competition by a distinguished judge in each genre. (Past judges include Andrea Barrett, Ursula Hegi, Francine Prose, Edward Hirsch, Tomas Mallon, Louise Glück, and Yusef Komunyakaa.) The winning books are published in August to coincide with the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and the authors are invited to participate as Bakeless Fellows.
Since they first appeared in 1996, the winning Bakeless books have been critical successes. As a result, the Bakeless Prizes are coveted among new writers. The fact that Graywolf Press publishes these books is significant, for it joins together the preeminent literary press in the country with an equally distinguished writers’ conference. The collaboration speaks to the commitment of both institutions to cultivate emerging literary artists in order to ensure a richer future for American writing.
In February, Ferch won the Ruminate Short Story Prize by Ruminate Magazine for his story, “The Miracles of Vincent Van Gogh.” Ferch’s story, also written with the pen name Shann Ray, was chosen by David James Duncan, author of “The River Y” and “Brothers K.” The story appears in the spring issue of the magazine.
Ferch holds a Ph.D. in systems psychology from University of Alberta in Canada, and a master of fine arts in poetry and fiction from the Inland Northwest Center for Writers at Eastern Washington University. He teaches leadership and forgiveness studies at Gonzaga.
Ferch’s pen name is the name he and his mother share. “I write fiction and poetry under my middle name in honor of my Mom,” said Ferch, whose mother and father live in Bozeman, Mont. Ferch spent part of his childhood on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in Southeast Montana, attended Park High in Livingston, Mont., and played basketball for Montana State University and Pepperdine University before playing overseas in Germany. He is also the winner of the Subterrain Poetry Prize and the Crab Creek Review Fiction Prize. His work has also appeared in Montana Quarterly, Poetry International, South Dakota Review, McSweeney’s, Narrative, and StoryQuarterly among other venues.
For more information, please contact Shann Ferch at (509) 313-3490 or via e-mail.