A partnership program of the Alabama State Council on the Arts

July 2023 Newsletter

Birmingham Poet Laureate application launches August 1

Create Birmingham, in partnership with the City of Birmingham and funded by the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Arts Committee of the Birmingham City Council, invites Birmingham-based poets to apply to be Birmingham’s inaugural Poet Laureate serving 2024-2025.

The City of Birmingham Poet Laureate will serve as an ambassador for poetry in Birmingham. Applications will be accepted beginning August 1 and are due by October 2 by 11:59 pm. Learn more here: https://createbirmingham.org/community-arts/birmingham-poet-laureate/.


Just in time for summer listening, Troy Public Radio has launched a podcast series featuring the work of Alabama writers, both well-known and beloved and those deserving to be better known.

Kyle Gassiott, host, producer, and operations manager for Troy Public Radio, and Don Noble, the voice of the series and host of BookMark, share a little of the series’ backstory and what we can look forward to hearing.

Kyle Gassiott: I’m fond of saying that Alabama Aloud is a podcast that is long overdue! Given the wealth of great writing by Alabama authors and wonderful stories that are set in the state, it’s surprising that this project hasn’t already emerged. Twice a month we’ll be sharing these stories read by the inimitable Don Noble, who is as natural at reading these works as he is at interviewing authors.

Don Noble: Even after all these years in the state –54—it astounds me still that there are so many fine Alabama writers. How do we choose what to read? First, it must be a good story. There must be a strong Alabama connection, usually with the author, but not necessarily. In terms of my personal “take“ on Alabama writers, I still have a kind of outsider’s objective eye and I am still not a cousin of any of the writers–even if they are all cousins of one another. Choosing is always a tricky business, but after all these years I just trust my own taste. Why not?

KG: When Don approached me with the idea, I was immediately on board. I always love working with him and we share a love of great literature and audio, great partnerships all around! We are, at least at first, using short stories, although we may move on to novels later.

DN: I have already recorded pieces by Suzanne Hudson, Thom Gossom, Wendy Reed, Daniel Wallace, Marlin Barton, and Michael Knight. In each case we have to contact the writer and get permission from his or her publisher. I expect that over time we will read stories by 30 or more different writers.

KG: Troy Public Radio is the producing and distribution part of the enterprise. Don works closely with me and our podcast project manager and producer, Austin Toy. It really is a labor of love, and we enjoy getting together to plan our upcoming “conversations” with our listeners

DG: Right now you can hear a reading of “The Last of the Belles“ by F. Scott Fitzgerald. This is a fictionalization of the time when he met and courted Zelda Sayre in Montgomery during WWI. Tune in later this month for new episodes.

KG: We have fantastic founding support from Ernest & Hadley Booksellers in Tuscaloosa and will be collaborating with more sponsors in the future.  But the great thing about “Alabama Aloud” (and any podcast that Troy Public Radio produces) is that it is free and available wherever people get their podcasts.

Here is a link with subscription information: https://alabamaaloudwithdonnoble.podbean.com/. Expect to receive an episode every two weeks or so.

ASCA Announces Literary Arts Fellowships

This June, the Alabama State Council on the Arts awarded Fellowship Grants to six writers. Congratulations to Brooke Champagne (prose; Northport), Monique Fields (prose; Tuscaloosa), Kristen Iskandrian (prose; Birmingham), Matt Layne (poetry; Birmingham), Adam Prince (prose; Mobile), and Jacqueline Allen Trimble (poetry; Montgomery).

Recipients receive a $5,000 grant to “support the growth and development of their artistic careers through time creating, practicing, and improving their skill, pursuit of professional development and training, or other opportunities that lead to success for these Alabama artists.”

The Literary Arts Fellowships are part of ASCA’s overall Fellowship grants to artists. They are awarded to individuals working in arts education, craft, dance, design, media/photography, music, literature, theatre, and visual arts. This year ASCA awarded 23 grants totaling $115,000.

2023 Literary Arts Fellowship Recipients

Brooke Champagne of Northport was awarded a Literary Arts Fellowship in Prose. Champagne’s writing has appeared in literary journals and has received various accolades and awards, including the inaugural William Bradley Prize for the Essay for her work “Exercises.” In 2022, she won the March Faxness National Championship Essay Tournament with her essay on Aimee Mann’s cover of the song “One.” Her essays have been selected as Notables in Best American Essays  2019, 2021, and 2022 editions. Her debut essay collection, Nola Face, is forthcoming with the Crux Series in Literary Nonfiction at the University of Georgia Press in Spring 2024.

Monique Fields of Tuscaloosa was awarded a Literary Arts Fellowship in Prose. Fields received a BA in Communications from Auburn University at Montgomery and an MA in Journalism from Northwestern University. She advises student journalists at The Crimson White. Fields is the author of the children’s book Honeysmoke: A Story of Finding Your Color and her essays about race and identity have appeared on-air, in print, and online, including NPR’s “All Things Considered,” Ebony magazine, and TheRoot.com.

Kristen Iskandrian of Birmingham was awarded a Literary Arts Fellowship in Prose. Iskandrian is the author of the novel Motherest (Hachette, 2017), named a Best Book of 2017 by Publishers Weekly and long-listed for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize. Her other work has been published widely, in places such as The Best American Short StoriesThe O. Henry Prize Short StoriesPloughsharesZYZZYVACrazyhorseMcSweeney’sThe Missouri ReviewPoets & Writers, and elsewhere, including several anthologies. Iskandrian received her BA at the College of the Holy Cross and her MA and PhD in English Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Georgia.

Matt Layne of Birmingham was awarded a Literary Arts Fellowship in Poetry. Layne has been writing, performing, teaching, and promoting poetry around Alabama and the Southeast since the early 1990s. He was a founding member of the improv poetry group, The Kevorkian Skull Poets, and in 2008, he helped found the Word Up! Poetry competition at the Birmingham Public Library. A multiple Hackney Literary Award-winning writer, he has also been recognized by the National Society of Arts and Letters and been featured in Peek magazine, Birmingham Arts JournalSteel Toe Review, and B-Metro.

Adam Prince of Mobile was awarded a Literary Arts Fellowship in Prose. Prince’s award-winning fiction has appeared in The Southern ReviewThe Sewanee Review, and Narrative magazine, among others. His first book, a short story collection called The Beautiful Wishes of Ugly Men, was published with Black Lawrence Press. A former Tickner Fellow, Prince was named one of the twenty best new writers by Narrative magazine. In 2021, he was selected by novelist Michael Byers to receive the Peden Prize for a story published in the Missouri Review.

Jacqueline Trimble of Montgomery was awarded a Literary Arts Fellowship in Poetry. Trimble is a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellow (Poetry) and a Cave Canem Graduate Fellow. American Happiness, her debut poetry collection, won the 2016 Balcones Poetry Prize. Her new poetry collection, How to Survive the Apocalypse, released in August 2022, was named one of the ten best poetry books for adults by the New York Public Library. Trimble is Professor of English and chair of the Department of Languages and Literatures at Alabama State University

Milestones and Memorials

Carolynne B. Scott, 1937-2023

The Alabama literary community mourns the passing of Carolynne Scott, a journalist, accomplished short story writer, and photographer. She taught at the Alabama School of Fine Arts and in the University of Alabama Birmingham’s Special Studies program. Her family notes that while “short fiction and novels were Carolynne’s love,” poetry was “a life blood to her soul.” Her poetry appeared in local publications and in nationally published anthologies. Visit here for more about Carolynne’s well-lived life and extensive accomplishments.


We know that no matter where you live and work in the lively, vibrant world of Alabama letters, you value the work and advocacy of the Alabama Writers’ Forum. Over halfway through our FY23 fiscal year, we heartily thank you for your sustaining membership or donation to promote the literary arts in Alabama.

We ask that you consider making an additional gift, renewing your membership early, or making a gift in honor or memory of someone important to you or the literary arts. Your extra gift will strengthen our matching dollars for upcoming statewide grant applications and provide much needed discretionary funds.

Your gift will ensure that you make a difference for writers, readers, teachers, and all members of Alabama’s literary community. Donate here. Because we are a registered 501(c)3 organization, your donation is completely tax deductible.

AWF Book Reviews

Each month the Alabama Writers’ Forum posts book reviews of works by writers who live in or have ties to the state and works of interest to Alabama readers. This month features Dan T. Carter’s fascinating book on Asa/Forrest Carter, Unmasking the Klansman, Amos Jasper Wright IV’s Petrochemical Nocturne, and Outside from the Inside, a collection of Anne Whitehouse’s poetry.  Please let us know about your new book! Ask your publisher to send a review copy to Alabama Writers’ Forum, P. O. Box 4777, Montgomery, AL 36103-4777 or share your book information with Jay Lamar, jaylamar@writersforum.org.

AWF Calendar

The AWF calendar of events is growing! Check out information on readings, book signings, workshops, and publication opportunities, such as former Bitter Southerner editor Chuck Reece’s new Salvation South. Be sure to add your events at AWF calendar.

Summertime Is Book Time!

NewSouth Bookstore is one of many bookstores around the state with upcoming author events.

Here are two to check out:

Thursday, July 20 at 5:30pm

New York Times bestselling author of First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong James Hansen joins us to talk about his new release, Completely Mad, a sweeping saga involving two extraordinary adventurers who have only one thing in common: the ambition to cross the Atlantic in a rowboat . . . alone. John Fairfax set off from the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa with his sights on Florida as Tom McClean charted a course from Newfoundland to Ireland. Though the two men’s remarkable transoceanic journeys seem pulled from a different era, both finished within days of the first landing on the moon in July 1969.

Wednesday, August 16 at 5:30pm

Jefferson Cowie will be our guest with his new Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Freedom’s Dominion: A Saga of White Resistance to Federal Power. In fact, he’ll be in Alabama traveling with the Pulitzer Prize committee. Freedom’s Dominion is a magisterial work — “important, deeply affecting, and regrettably relevant” (NY Times) — which traces the long-running clash between white people and federal authority through the lens of Barbour County, Alabama, the ancestral home of political firebrand George Wallace.

Books and authors of every genre can be found at Alabama’s independent bookstores. In addition to NewSouth Books, check out Auburn Oil Co. Booksellers, Sweet Home Books in Wetumpka, Thank You Books in Birmingham, Page & Palette in Fairhope, and Tuscaloosa’s Ernest & Hadley Booksellers, among others.

Be sure to check the AWF online calendar for bookstore offerings and literary events around the state, and be sure to add your events here.

AWF News and Newsletter

AWF wants news! Send information about workshops, contests, prizes, and events to writersforum@writersforum.org.