Winner & Finalists

The finalists for the 2017 Vermont Book Award have been announced. The finalists were chosen across four genres—children’s literature, creative nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. The winner will be crowned at the third annual Vermont Book Award Gala on September 23, 2017 at Vermont College of Fine Arts. 

Below are the 2017 finalists:

Jensen BeachJensen Beach is the author of two story collections, most recently Swallowed by the Cold (Graywolf). He holds an MFA in fiction from the Program for Poets and Writers at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, as well as an MA and BA in English from Stockholm University. He teaches in the BFA program at Johnson State College, where he is the fiction editor at Green Mountains Review. He’s also a faculty member in the MFA Program in Writing & Publishing at Vermont College of Fine Arts. His writing has appeared recently in A Public Space, the Paris Review, and The New Yorker. He lives in Vermont.


Melanie FinnMelanie Finn was born and raised in Kenya until age 11 when she moved with her family to Connecticut and, later, Vermont.  After studying journalism, she worked as a journalist and screenwriter in six different countries.  In 2004, her first novel, Away From You, was published to international acclaim. The following year, she and her husband, the wildlife filmmaker Matt Aeberhard, moved to a remote region on Tanzania to make DisneyNature's haunting flamingo epic, The Crimson Wing. During the filming, Melanie became medic to the local Masai community and founded the Natron Healthcare Project.  She now live in Kirby, Vermont with Matt, their two daughters, three Tanzanian mutts and two very old dogs. The Gloaming, her second novel, was one of the New York Times Most Notable Books of 2016. 


Margot HarrisonMargot Harrison earned a PhD in comparative literature from the University of California at Berkeley and is the associate editor of Seven Days, where her reporting and reviewing have won AAN Awards. Her short fiction has appeared in The Saint Ann's Review. The Killer in Me, her first novel (Disney Hyperion, 2016), was an Indies Introduce and Indie Next selection. Find her at or @MargotFHarrison.


Robin MacArthurRobin MacArthur lives on the hillside farm where she was born in Marlboro, Vermont. Her debut collection of short stories, Half Wild, was the winner of the 2017 PEN New England award for fiction, and a finalist for the New England Book Award. Robin is also the editor of Contemporary Vermont Fiction: An Anthology, one-half of the indie folk duo Red Heart the Ticker, and the recipient of two Creation Grants from the Vermont Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. Her forthcoming novel, Heart Spring Mountain, will be published by Ecco (HarperCollins) in January of 2018.


Angela PalmAngela Palm is the author of Riverine: A Memoir from Anywhere but Here (Graywolf Press). Riverine was an Indie Next selection, winner of the 2014 Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize, a Kirkus Best Book of 2016, and a Powerful Memoir by Powerful Women selected by Oprah. Palm has been a Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference fellow in Narrative Nonfiction, and her work has been published in Ecotone, Creative Nonfiction, At Length Magazine, Passages North, Brevity, Paper Darts, and elsewhere. She lives with her two children in Vermont, where she works as an editor.


Liz PowellElizabeth A. I. Powell is the author of The Republic of Self a New Issue First Book Prize winner, selected by C.K. Williams. Her second book Willy Loman’s Reckless Daughter: Living Truthfully Under Imaginary Circumstances won the Robert Dana Prize in poetry, chosen by Maureen Seaton, and was a 2016 'Books We Love' in The New Yorker and a Small Press Bestseller. A recent Pushcart Prize winner, Powell has also received a Vermont Council on the Arts grants and a Yaddo fellowship. Her work has appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Barrow Street, Black Warrior Review, Ecotone, Harvard Review, Handsome, Hobart, Indiana Review, Missouri Review, Mississippi Review, Slope, Sugarhouse Review, Ploughshares, Post Road, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. She is Editor of Green Mountains Review, and Associate Professor of Writing and Literature at Johnson State College. She also serves on the faculty of the low-residency MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Nebraska-Omaha and the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA in Writing and Publishing.


Alison PrineAlison Prine’s poems have appeared in The Virginia Quarterly Review, Shenandoah, Harvard Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, and Prairie Schooner, among others. Her debut collection of poems, Steel, was chosen by Jeffrey Harrison for the Cider Press Review Book Award and was published in January 2016.  She lives in Burlington, Vermont where she works as a psychotherapist.


Mary RuefleMary Ruefle’s latest book is My Private Property (Wave Books, 2016). Madness, Rack, and Honey, a collection of her lectures, all of which were given at VCFA over the years, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; her Selected Poems (Wave Books, 2010) won the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America. She has won many awards for her work, including an NEA, a Whiting Award, a Guggenheim, and an Award in Literature from The American Academy of Arts and Letters. She also makes one-of-a-kind erasure books, which have been exhibited in museums and galleries. Mary lives in southern Vermont.


2017 Panel of Judges

  • Emily Bernard
  • Amanda Coplin
  • Chard deNiord
  • Grace Greene
  • Beth McCabe
  • Kerrin McCadden
  • Janice Obuchowski
  • Tanya Lee Stone.


Miciah Bay Gault
Program Director, MFA in Writing & Publishing
Editor, Hunger Mountain

2016 Winner and Finalists

2015 Winner and Finalists

The Vermont Book Award is a new prize created to honor artists with deep connections to the state of Vermont and to draw attention to a state so uniquely suited for creative enterprise.

In keeping with our mission of promoting emerging and established artists, the Vermont Book Award will recognize outstanding poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and children’s literature that is penned by a Vermont writer or by a writer with deep ties to the state of Vermont.