Jerry Craven, head of the Lamar University Press, recently received the Frank O. Connor Award for fiction for his short story “The Stone Salvation Barn.” Craven was chosen by descant, the literary journal of Texas Christian University, in which the story will be published, Lamar University said in a press release. More than 100 stories were considered for this prestigious award.
“I am quite happy with the award and was astounded to get it for two reasons. First, I was unaware that the story had been entered in a contest. Second, there were so many stories considered for the award,” Craven said. “The journal, descant, publishes such distinguished writers that I was delighted just to have a story in the magazine.”
Craven’s story takes place in Jasper and Bevilport in the late 1800s and chronicles the main character’s struggles with love and his interactions with the locals who believe they have found the face of Jesus on the side of a barn. Craven will use the award money to attend the annual Texas Association of Creative Writing Teachers Conference, where he will read a chapter from his new novel, The Wild Part.
“I hope the award helps call attention to the Lamar University Press, just as Jim Sanderson’s winning the Kay Cattarulla short story award has done,” Craven said.
LU Press is growing quickly, having recently published five books: High Tides, Low Tides, by Jean Andrews; With Our Baggage, by Alan Berecka; Flower, Song, Dance, by David Bowles; A Garden on the Brazos, by Dominique Inge; and Underground Musicians, by Carol Coffee Reposa. Other recent publications of note include A Shared Voice, a collection of short stories written in a call-and-response style and based on each other by 12 writers from Texas and 12 writers from South Carolina, and Louisiana Rogue, a work of fiction presented as a translation chronicling the life of Pierre Prospère-Tourmoulin.
“All across the region—and the state—literary presses are folding. LU Press is taking up that gap. It is trying to preserve that literary outlet,” said James Sanderson, chair of the Department of English and Modern Languages. “LU Press is a general interest press for the general audience. The guiding principle is that a general audience and literary merit are not mutually exclusive.”
Several writers whose works have been published by the LU Press will present at the annual Langdon Weekend Literary Conference, a Southwestern conference featuring Texas writers, on September 5-6 in Granbury.
“Both the LU Press and the Department are getting a reputation for their literary activities. LU Press is becoming a force and an example in the state,” Sanderson said.
For more information on the LU Press, visit www.lamaruniversitypress.org .