University of Rochester

Two Local Writers Win University of Rochester's Eiseman Awards

April 13, 2006

Biographer James S. Fleming and poet William Heyen are the first recipients of the Andrew Eiseman Writers Award at the University of Rochester. Fleming's book, Windows on Congress: A Congressional Biography of Barber B. Conable Jr., and Heyen's latest book of poetry, Shoah Train: Poems, were chosen by a panel of judges.

A presentation of the awards and a reception to honor the writers will be held at 4:30 p.m. Friday, April 21, in the Hawkins-Carlson Room of Rush Rhees Library on the University's River Campus. It is free and open to the public. Parking is available in the Library Lot.

The Andrew Eiseman Writers Award was created in 2005 by the College of Arts, Sciences, and Engineering at the University of Rochester and by Eiseman, a 1979 alumnus of the College, to celebrate Rochester-area writers and to draw attention to the value of written communication. Eiseman will present the awards.

Prizes may be given in up to five categories—fiction, nonfiction, poetry, young people's literature, and playwriting. Works considered for this first competition were published in 2004. To be eligible, authors must live within a 50-mile radius of Rochester. A $1,000 prize will be awarded in each category where the judges select a winner.

Windows on Congress (University of Rochester Press, 448 pages, $29.95) is a biography of Conable, who served as a Republican congressman from Western New York from 1965 to 1985. Later, he was president of the World Bank from 1986 to 1991. Fleming, a political science professor at Rochester Institute of Technology since 1982, spent 15 years researching and writing the book.

Shoah Train: Poems (Etruscan Press, 96 pages, $15.95), which was one of five finalists in poetry for the 2004 National Book Awards, collects more than 70 Heyen poems written over the last dozen years. He has often written and studied about the Holocaust. Heyen is professor of English and poet in residence emeritus at SUNY Brockport, his undergraduate alma mater.

He is the author of many books and his work has appeared in more than 300 periodicals. The William and Hannelore Hayen Collection of approximately 10,000 items is now housed at Rush Rhees Library. It is considered one of the finest assemblages of inscribed first editions, manuscripts, and correspondence by major American writers.

The judges for the Andrew Eiseman Writers Award were: Marge Betley, literary manager/resident dramaturg at Geva Theatre; Richard Ben Cramer, Pulitzer Prize winner and author; Andrew Eiseman; Joanna Hodgman, executive committee member of the Friends of the University of Rochester Libraries and former English teacher; Grant Holcomb, director of the Memorial Art Gallery; Linda Sue Park, winner of the 2002 Newbery Medal for best children's book and author of other titles.

Also, Jerold Ramsey, professor emeritus of English at the University of Rochester; Dr. Seymour I. Schwartz, Distinguished Alumni Professor of Surgery at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry and author; and Annette Weld, advisory council member for River Campus Libraries and alumna.