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Two Spalding MFA in Writing faculty members honored

Silas House's 'Southernmost' longlisted for Carnegie Medal; Lesléa Newman receives Matthew Shepard Foundation's Making a Difference Award

Steve Jones

Two authors who are faculty members of the Spalding University Master’s of Fine Arts in Writing program have received new accolades.

Silas House, who is a member of the Spalding MFA program’s fiction faculty as well as a Spalding MFA alumnus, had his new novel, Southernmost, placed on the 25-member longlist of candidates for the 2019 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction.

Meanwhile, Lesléa Newman, a Spalding MFA faculty member in the concentration of writing for children and young adults, has been named a winner of the Matthew Shepard Foundation’s Making a Difference Award for her writing and work involving the LGBTQ community.

The Carnegie Medal for which House has been longlisted recognizes the best fiction book for adult readers published in the United States in the previous year while serving as a guide to help adults select quality reading material. The award is presented by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the American Library Association’s Booklist publication and the Reference and User Services Association.

The short list of three finalists will be announced on Oct. 24, and the winner of the Carnegie Medal for fiction will be announced on Jan. 27.

House, who won Spalding’s 2015 Caritas Medal as the university’s alumnus of the year, is teaching a community writing workshop next month at Spalding in conjunction with the program’s fall residency.  He is also the National Endowment for the Humanities Chair in Appalachian Studies at Berea College.

Lesléa Newman MFA faculty headshot
Lesléa Newman

Newman’s award comes from the Matthew Shepard Foundation, which advocates for the LGBTQ community while seeking “to erase hate by replacing it with understanding, compassion and acceptance,” according to its website. The organization was started by the parents of Matthew Shepard, a gay college student who died after being brutally attacked in 1998.

Newman is the creator of 70 books, including many children’s books that feature LGBTQ characters. In 2012, she published October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard, which explores the impact of Shepard’s murder through many poetic voices. Her newest children’s book, Gittel’s Journey: An Ellis Island Story, based on her own family history of immigration, will be published in February 2019.

Olympic figure skater and bronze medalist Adam Rippon is the Matthew Shepard Foundation’s other 2018 Making a Difference Award honoree.

RELATED: Read bios on all Spalding MFA in Writing faculty members