Wyoming Arts Council

Announcing the 2020 Blanchan and Doubleday Writing Award Winners

Linda Baker of Pinedale and sid sibo of Afton are the recipients of the Wyoming Arts Council’s 2020 Blanchan and Doubleday writing awards.

Baker won the Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Writing Award for the entry, “Searching for Touchstones in the Path of the Pronghorn,” and sibo received the Neltje Blanchan Memorial Writing Award for the entry, “Familiar: Stories.

Two honorable mentions were awarded to Leslie Bridewell McMillan of Rock Springs and Rose Burrows of Cheyenne for the Neltje Blanchan Memorial Writing Award.

The Neltje Blanchan Memorial Writing Award and the Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Writing Award are made possible through the generosity of a private donor. The Blanchan award is given for the best writing that is informed by a relationship with the natural world; the Doubleday award is given for the best writing by a woman writer. Both awards are designed to bring attention to writers in Wyoming who have not yet received wide recognition for their work, and to support emerging writers at crucial times in their careers.

Linda F. Baker currently teaches English as a Second Language and High School Equivalency, and is the Executive Director of the Upper Green River Alliance, a small, conservation non-profit organization.  She has been a truck driver, waitress, firefighter, and geophysical exploration surveyor.  Alone, she conducted a five-year trails inventory on over 300 miles of trails in the Wyoming Range for the US Forest Service.  She is an angler, photographer, skier, recreationist, and life-long birder.  She lives at the foot of the Wind River Range in western Wyoming with her partner John, nine falcons, and a dog.  Although she has written countless comment letters to state and federal agencies, and composed her group’s website text, this is her first non-fiction publication.

On a western Wyoming homestead, sid sibo feeds thin mountain soil and tends a mixed community of plants and critters with a like-minded partner. Story seeds, dropped by ravens or gathered from a job in environmental analysis, sprout here in lush mounds of manure. Though mushrooms ate the first two completed novels, sibo has last year’s single-month novel sniffing down an agent, and continues wrestling with a story that’s been a challenge for decades. Two poems are included in the 2019 “No Small Things” anthology. The three short pieces that earned this award belong to a linked, in-process collection called “Familiar: Stories.” Other pieces from that collection received Honorable Mention in this contest last year and in the Rick DeMarinis contest, with upcoming publication in “Cutthroat, a Magazine of the Arts.” Interested readers can also find occasional “Acoustic Burro” blog posts celebrating earthly oddness at www.siboMountain.net.

The juror for this year was Eileen Pollack. Pollack graduated from Yale with a BS in physics and earned an MFA in creative writing from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She is the author, most recently, of the novels “The Professor of Immortality,” “The Bible of Dirty Jokes,” “A Perfect Life,” and “Breaking and Entering,” which won the Grub Street National Book Prize and was named a New York Times Editor’s Choice selection. She is also the author of two collections of short fiction, “The Rabbi in the Attic” and “In the Mouth,” which won the Edward Lewis Wallant Award. Pollack’s work of creative nonfiction “Woman Walking Ahead: In Search of Catherine Weldon and Sitting Bull” was recently made into a movie starring Jessica Chastain. Her investigative memoir “The Only Woman in the Room: Why Science Is Still a Boys’ Club” was published in 2015 by Beacon Press; a long excerpt appeared in the Times Sunday Magazine and went viral. Eileen has received fellowships from the NEA, the Michener Foundation, the Rona Jaffe Foundation, and the Massachusetts Arts Council. Her novella “The Bris” was chosen by Stephen King to appear in the Best American Short Stories 2007. Her essay “Pigeons” was selected by Cheryl Strayed for the 2013 edition of Best American Essays; “Righteous Gentile” appears in the 2018 edition of Best American Travel Writing. A long-time faculty member and former director of the Helen Zell MFA Program in Creative Writing at the University of Michigan, she now lives and writes in Manhattan.

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