We are pleased to announce that poet and Stonecoast alumna (M.F.A. 2005) Melanie Drane will receive a 2011 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award, which is given annually to six women writers who demonstrate excellence and promise in the early stages of their careers. Celebrating its 17th year, the Rona Jaffe Awards have helped many women build successful writing careers by offering encouragement and financial support at a critical time. The Awards of $25,000 each will be presented to the six recipients on September 22nd in New York City.
Melanie Drane is working on a new manuscript of poems entitled The Language Orchard, which explores the profound experience of her sister’s severe aphasia after a recent stroke, and their efforts to recover her language. Ms. Drane says, “Living overseas as a freelance writer and editor for eighteen years, I became intrigued by how our received linguistic environment impacts identity, relationships, and participation in community. Questions of voice and language have long fascinated me as a writer and student of languages. But lately these issues have acquired a more urgent grip at a personal level.” She has also completed a book-length manuscript entitled The City of Blademakers, reflecting her many years living in Japan. Ms. Drane received her B.A. from Princeton, her M.A. from the University of California, Berkeley, and her M.F.A. from the University of Southern Maine at Stonecoast. Her work has appeared in Indiana Review, New South, The Iowa Review, and The Huffington Post. She has received the UK National Poetry Competition First Prize, as well as a North Carolina Arts Council literary fellowship, and served as writer-in-residence at Interlochen Center for the Arts from 2002-2004. Until recently, she was the director and instructor of writing workshops of Basho’s Cabin. She is now a full-time caregiver. Her Rona Jaffe Award will allow her to rent a small writing space and hire a part-time companion to stay with her sister while she works on this new collection. She lives in Durham, North Carolina.
Celebrated novelist Rona Jaffe (1931-2005) established The Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Awards program in 1995. It is the only national literary awards program of its kind dedicated to supporting women writers exclusively. Since the program began, the Foundation has awarded more than $1 million to emergent women writers, including several who have gone on to critical acclaim, such as Elif Batuman, Eula Biss, Judy Budnitz, Lan Samantha Chang, Rebecca Curtis, Rivka Galchen, Kathleen Graber, Frances Hwang, Aryn Kyle, ZZ Packer, Tracy K. Smith, Mary Szybist, and Julia Whitty.