Eastern Kentucky author wins largest prize given to an LGBTQIA+ writer in the U.S.

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Eastern Kentucky native and best-selling novelist Silas House was the recipient of a huge honor last month, receiving the Duggins Prize for Outstanding Mid-Career Novelist, the largest prize given to an LGBTQIA+ writer in the United States.

“I’ve been a published writer for about 20 years now and if I have done anything worthwhile in that time I hope that I have made another LGBTQ person — especially those living in rural places — feel seen and heard the way previous winners of this prize … made me feel seen and heard as a young gay man living in a rural place,” House said in his recorded acceptance speech for the Lambda Literary Awards.

House lives in Lexington and is the NEH Chair of Appalachian Studies at Berea College. His most recent novel, “Southernmost,” came out in 2018, and his next novel, “Lark Ascending,” is due in September.

Five to be honored at Lexington’s Arts Awards

Five Lexingtonians will be honored later this month in the second edition of Lexington’s Arts Awards, presented by Arts Connect, an organization dedicated to raising awareness of the arts in Lexington.

Visual Arts Award: Arturo Alonzo Sandoval, who was on the art faculty at the University of Kentucky from 1974 to 2017, has been internationally recognized for his innovative work in fiber art including fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and having his work exhibited in places such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Literary Arts Award: Mike Norris has spent decades chronicling stories and sharing the art of Kentucky, particularly in collaboration with folk artist Minnie Adkins. While most of his work seems geared toward young people, it has cross-generational appeal and serves as a cultural chronicle.

Performance Arts Award: Joe Ferrell has been considered the dean of Lexington theater directors for several decades now for his skill bringing timeless classics and the best of contemporary drama to life on a variety of Lexington stages, and inspiring generations of Lexington actors in the process. He was well known for his work with the Lexington Shakespeare Festival and most recently directed a production of “Turn of the Screw” for Upstairs at Midnight Theatre Project.

Arts Educator Award: Neil Chethik has had a multifaceted literary career, most recently as the executive director of the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning from 2011 to 2022, following five years as writer in residence at the center. There, he instituted numerous programs to support literary arts in Kentucky, including establishing the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame. Earlier this year, Chethik and his family established a fund to advance Black writers at the Carnegie Center.

Arts Benefactor Award: Jackie Hamilton’s involvement in the arts has taken on a variety of forms from dance student to marketing and communications. She guided the creation of the University of Kentucky Arts in Healthcare Program which filled the new pavilion at UK’s Albert B. Chandler Hospital, as well as satellite clinics and student dorms, with art. Serving on the board of the Lexington Philharmonic, Hamilton has provided funding for the orchestra’s artist-in-residence program.

The 2022 Lexington Arts Awards will be presented July 21 at a luncheon at the Lyric Theatre and Cultural Center. Visit artsconnectlex.org for tickets and more information.

Rich Copley was an arts writer and editor at the Herald-Leader for 20 years. He is now a multimedia producer based in Lexington.

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