The judges for the prize were 2016 Emerging Writer winner JP Howard and queer scholar and activist Theodore Kerr. In a joint statement they said of this year's winners:
"H. Melt's work revolves around writing and building literary communities for trans and queer people. Their debut poetry collection, The Plural, The Blurring brings forward powerful ideas and imagery around gender, race, borders and bodies. Additionally, they are a passionate advocate for the trans literary community, in Chicago and beyond, consistently reviewing new queer work, interviewing trans authors, teaching and hosting events that celebrate queer and trans poets and writers. Melt's commitment to fostering a literary community that is inclusive of trans writers is highlighted by their successful efforts to add a trans poetry category to the Lambda Literary Awards."
They continued, "Victor Yates is a prolific writer whose debut novel A Love Like Blood won the 2016 Lammy for Debut Fiction. The novel explores race, religion, Americanism, and sexuality. Like his lived experience, Yates' writing is intersectional; he explores contemporary issues through the lens of his experience as a black gay man in America. He has contributed his formidable voice and talents to numerous educational LGBTQ magazines and his passion as an educator at various universities and LGBT centers confirms his commitment to advance our queer community. He is a necessary voice and advocate for the voiceless and underrepresented in the LGBTQ community."
The Emerging Writer Award, which consists of two cash prizes of $1000, is made possible by Judith A. Markowitz who is committed to helping LGBT literature flourish by recognizing talented new writers. To qualify for the award, recipients must have published up to two books or one book and additional literary work such as short stories, essays or journalistic articles.
Melt and Yates will be recognized as winners of the Markowitz Award at the 29th Annual Lambda Literary Awards ceremony on June 12th in New York City.
"This year's judges considered a very wide field of exceptional nominations," said LL Executive Director, Tony Valenzuela. "We congratulate the winners for their well-deserved achievement and for their exciting new works yet to come."
To learn more about the Judith A. Markowitz Award for Emerging LGBTQ Writers visit our website.
2017 Winners of the Judith A. Markowitz Award for Emerging LGBTQ Writers
H. Melt is a poet and artist whose work proudly documents Chicago's queer and trans communities. Their writing has appeared many places including The Feminist Wire, In These Times, The Offing, and Them, the first trans literary journal in the United States. They are the author of The Plural, The Blurring and editor of Subject to Change: Trans Poetry & Conversation, forthcoming from Sibling Rivalry Press. H. Melt co-leads Queeriosity at Young Chicago Authors and works at Women & Children First, Chicago's feminist bookstore.
Victor Yates won the 2016 Lambda Literary Award for LGBT Debut Fiction for his novel, A Love Like Blood. His book also won Honorable Mention at the New England Book Festival. Recently, he was awarded a grant from the City of West Hollywood to record narratives of older gay men to preserve for younger generations.
In June, he will begin the LGBTQ Tour of Color, which is a literary and performance art collective containing himself, Toni Newman, Craig Stewart, and A.D. Burks. The tour will travel across the U.S., and the writers will perform at universities and art centers to reflect the turmoil that is happening under the current administration as well as gender identity, sexual orientation, and HIV/AIDS.
In 2012, he had two poems published in the anthology, For Colored Boys, which won the American Library Association's Stonewall Book Award-Israel Fishman Non-Fiction. He is the recipient of an Ahmanson Foundation grant and the Elma Stuckey Writing Award (1st place in poetry). He received an Oprah Winfrey Scholarship at Morehouse College and appeared on Oprah's Surprise Spectacular show. Also, he teaches writing workshops throughout L.A. County for LGBT youth and people impacted by HIV and AIDS.