Established in 2003 as successor to two earlier awards (the Mayflower Cup and Patterson Cup), the Ragan award is named for poet, critic and publisher Sam Ragan, who was also the first secretary of the North Carolina Department of Natural and cultural Resources. The award is overseen and presented by the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association; and if it’s on the same schedule as past years, the winner should be announced in November.
(UPDATE/JANUARY 2022: And the winner of the Ragan Old North State Award for Nonfiction is Gregory S. Taylor’s “Central Prison: A History of North Carolina’s State Penitentiary.” Congratulations to him, and to all my fellow nominees.)
At this point, though, I’m just glad to be in the field at all, alongside some very worthy books and authors, because it feels like I’m playing with house money. “Step It Up and Go” has already won the North Caroliniana Society Book Award for “the book that captures the essence of North Carolina by contributing powerfully to an understanding of the state,” and was also First Runner-Up in the Eric Hoffer Awards’ “Culture” category.
I am honored and thrilled to announce that “Step It Up and Go” has picked up another very nice accolade — the annual book award from the North Caroliniana Society, a group that is “Dedicated to the Promotion and Increased Knowledge and Appreciation of North Carolina’s Heritage.”
The North Caroliniana Society Book Award recognizes “the book that captures the essence of North Carolina by contributing powerfully to an understanding of the state.” It is also to be one that “makes a positive contribution and appears to have the best chance of standing the test of time as a classic volume of North Caroliniana.”
As I’ve noted elsewhere, writers and journalists are funny about contests and awards. We go out of our way to pretend they don’t matter, and that we don’t care. But you don’t have to scratch too far below the surface to find that we’re just like anyone else when it comes to things like this: Whether or not it means anything, and whether or not we’ll admit it, we all think winning stuff is fun.
Started in 2000, the Hoffer Awards are in memory of the late American philosopher and author Eric Hoffer. Their stated mission is “to honor freethinking writers and independent books of exceptional merit” published on small, academic and independent presses. This is the second time I’ve won a Hoffer Award, after a culture-category “Honorable Mention” for 2012’s “Ryan Adams: Losering, A Story of Whiskeytown.” But First Runner-Up is a step higher than Honorable Mention, so maybe I’ll get to the top someday!
Well, here’s a nice little feather for the cap. I am pleased to note that “Losering” has placed in the Eric Hoffer Awards For Independent Books, an annual competition established in the memory of the late writer/philosopher Eric Hoffer “to honor freethinking writers and independent books of exceptional merit.”