Cover To Cover is the anchor program for GPB’s literary coverage. Cover To Cover features a collection of distinctive Southern voices interviewing Georgia writers, Southern writers, and writers dealing with the South. The GPB Southern Lit Cadre will provide you with a varied, weekly glimpse at fiction, non-fiction, history, poetry, and even the occasional ‘old school’ nod to Flannery O’Connor or William Faulkner.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Lindberg Award

I traveled to Athens, Ga., yesterday to attend a meeting of the board of directors of the Stanley W. Lindberg Award, on which I serve.

The Lindberg Award is given biennially to someone who has contributed to Georgia’s literary culture through sustained excellence in writing, editing, publishing or teaching; I guess you might say it's a "lifetime achievement" award for the field of Georgia letters!

Stan Lindberg (pictured above) was the longtime editor of The Georgia Review, and a UGA professor of English. Under his guidance, the Review became one of the nation's most respected literary magazines; its circulation jumped 250 percent during his first 10 years as editor, and today stands at nearly 6,000 worldwide. In the 23 years of his editorship, the journal received numerous awards, including the prestigious National Magazine Award in 1986, and it won widespread praise for publishing fine writing by famous authors and promising newcomers. Today, the Review is still regularly nominated for the National Magazine Award in competition with such publications as The Atlantic, Esquire, and The New Yorker.

The Stanley W. Lindberg Award was established in the late 1990s by a group of noted writers and members of the Athens literary community who wanted to honor Lindberg's superb editing skills and keen eye for literary talent. The first award was presented in 1999 to author Pat Conroy.

Unfortunately, Stan was unable to attend that first award presentation due to a debilitating illness that was eventually the cause of his premature death in January 2000 at the age of just 60.

It was around the time of Stan's death that I was invited to join the board of directors of the Lindberg Award. At the time the other directors included such luminaries as Terry Kay, James Kilgo, and Philip Lee Williams, as well as non-writers such as Judy Long, editor-in-chief at Hill Street Press in Athens, and Charlotte Mealor who was for many years the business manager of The Georgia Review and a colleague of Stan's.
Since then, I have thoroughly enjoyed my work for the Lindberg Award. Some of the directors have left to be replaced by other literary notables, but we continue to seek out award recipients whose literary legacy in Georgia embodies the ethos of excellence Stan Lindberg brought to The Georgia Review.

Other recipients of the award include longtime UGA English professor and writer Marion Montgomery (2001), former Georgia Poet Laureate Bettie Sellers (2003), and acclaimed novelist and Macon native Tina McElroy Ansa (2005).

Yesterday's meeting at the State Botanical Gardens outside Athens was to consider nominations for the 2007 award. Over lunch we had great discussions of various long-standing members of the Georgia community of letters and were able to narrow down the field of candidates to one person.

Naturally, at this time I cannot divulge who that person might be, but in time all will be revealed in this blog, (I'm being coy, aren't I!). The award ceremony will be held towards the end of the year in Athens.

In yesterday's blog entry I wrote about "the incredibly high number of accomplished authors we have living and writing in this state." The Lindberg directors' meeting only reinforced this view.

Other prestigious awards, such as the Townsend Prize for Fiction, given biennially to an outstanding novel or short-story collection published by a Georgia writer during the past two years, recognize single works. The Stanley W. Lindberg Award is the only award in this state given for "lifetime achievement" in the field of Georgia literature.

The spirit of Stan Lindberg lives on in those presented with the award named for him.