MFA in Writing alumnx Shanta Lee Gander won the 2021 Vermont Book Award in the Poetry category for her first full-length collection, GHETTOCLAUSTROPHOBIA: Dreamin of Mama While Trying to Speak Woman in Woke Tongues (Diode Editions, June 2021). Her book was in the running with Stephen Cramer’s Disintegration Loops and American Wake by Kerrin McCadden, winner of the inaugural Vermont Book Award in 2015.

Gander said during her acceptance speech, “This is to the little girl inside myself who though she couldn’t, and [to] anybody else who thinks they can’t.” She also thanked her community of supporters, “because books don’t birth themselves.” Prior to winning the Vermont Book Award, GHETTOCLAUSTROPHOBIA received an honorable mention for the New England Poetry Club’s Sheila Margaret Motton Book Prize and positive reviews from the Poetry Foundation, Kenyon Review, and The Adroit Journal. Read the glowing review in Seven Days here.

The other two winners of 2021 Vermont Book Awards were fellow Vermont authors Alison Bechdel (in Creative Nonfiction for her graphic memoir, The Secret to Superhuman Strength) and Melanie Finn (in Fiction for The Hare). The three authors received the awards during the Vermont Book Awards celebration hosted by Vermont Humanities at VCFA’s Alumnx Hall on Saturday, April 30.