Barbara Hurd, an English professor at Frostburg State University, recently joined the ranks of some of America’s most notable writers when she won the Pushcart Prize, an American literary award that recognizes the best writing published by small presses. The prize, which in the past has been given to literary greats such as John Irving, Raymond Carver and Andre Dubus, is the second for Hurd, who also received a Pushcart Prize in 2004.
“To win one of the Pushcart Prizes is especially pleasing to me, not only because of the honor, but because the awards go to writers associated with those often-overlooked small presses of this country, where so much good literary work is happening,” Hurd said.
This year, Hurd was honored for her essay, “Fine Distinctions,” the lead essay in the Fall 2006 issue of “Fourth Genre,” a journal devoted to creative nonfiction. The essay is set on a shingle beach of southeast England and muses upon the ecology of the area’s habitat, along with how it was the setting for top-secret radar testing in the late 1960s, and a place where local legends abound about a merman and UFOs.
“Ultimately, it’s an essay about physical and psychological transformation,” Hurd said.
Hurd’s essay will be featured in “The Pushcart Prize XXXII: Best of the Small Presses” edition that will be published in the fall of 2008. Her essay will also be included in another upcoming book of essays she recently finished that is tentatively titled “Tracings: On Tidal Shifts and What Remains,” her third creative nonfiction book.
Hurd teaches at FSU and in the Stonecoast Program in Creative Writing. Her essays and poems have appeared in numerous publications, including the 1999 and 2001 volumes of “The Best American Essays,” “Orion,” the “Yale Review,” the “Georgia Review,” “Audubon” and “Sierra.” She is the author of two creative nonfiction works, “Stirring the Mud: On Swamps, Bogs, and Human Imagination” and “Entering the Stone: On Caves and Feeling through the Dark,” both of which have received national recognition and acclaim.
Situated in the mountains of Allegany County, Frostburg State University is one of the 13 institutions of the University System of Maryland. FSU is a comprehensive, residential regional university and serves as an educational and cultural center for Western Maryland.
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