Dr. Barbara Hurd, Frostburg State University professor of English, has been awarded The Pushcart Prize, an award now in its 29th year that honors the best of small presses.
Hurd was honored for her essay, "Squeeze," which appeared in "Orion" magazine last summer. That essay will appear in the 2005 Pushcart anthology, along with 61 other works, including poetry, essays and short stories, from 48 small presses. The Pushcart Prize was named among the most influential projects in the history of American publishing by Publishers Weekly.
"Squeeze" ultimately became Chapter 1 in Hurd's latest collection of essays, Entering the Stone: On Caves and Feeling Through the Dark, which was published by Houghton-Mifflin a year ago, to critical praise.
Hurd's honor at receiving the award was enhanced by the way she learned that she had been chosen.
"I was the writer-in-residence for two weeks at the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Maine this summer. Ten minutes before I was to give my reading there to a packed auditorium, Haystack's director comes up to me with a man who, he says, wishes to be introduced. The man turns out to be Bill Henderson, Pushcart's director, who goes on to tell me I'd won one of this year's prizes," Hurd said. "I could hardly settle down to read. It was such a thrill."
Henderson, who founded the Pushcart Prize in the 1970s, said he normally doesn't inform award winners in person, but when it came time to inform Hurd, she wasn't at home in Frostburg.
"It turned out she was doing a reading just five miles from me. She just happened to be here when I needed to find her," he said.
The Pushcart Prize XXVIII: Best of the Small Presses, 2005 Edition, is due out in late fall, Henderson said.
Hurd's previous collection of essays, Stirring the Mud: On Swamps, Bogs and Human Imagination, was chosen as a best book of 2001 by The Los Angeles Times. She also has published two collections of poetry, The Singer's Temple, for which she won the Bright Hill Press Poetry Award, and Objects in this Mirror. Her essays and poems have appeared in numerous journals and collections, including Best American Essays 1999, and Best American Essays 2001. She is the recipient of the 2002 National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Creative Nonfiction, among her numerous awards for her writing.
Hurd was awarded the Wilson H. Elkins Professorship from the University System of Maryland for 2002-2003 and 2003-2004. Hurd has worked at Frostburg State since 1977 and has been a faculty member in the Department of English since 1986, where she holds the rank of professor. She specializes in teaching creative writing and literature of the environment.