Skip to content

John Balaban Wins George Garrett Award

We’re a bit late passing along our congratulations, but we’re no less thrilled to announce that John Balaban has won the George Garrett Award for Outstanding Community Service in Literature from the Association of Writers and Writing Programs.

John is a professor of English and poet-in-residence at North Carolina State University.

The George Garrett Award for Outstanding Community Service in Literature recognizes those individuals who have made notable donations of care, time, labor, and money to support writers and their literary accomplishments, and is named for George Garrett (1929–2008), who made exceptional contributions to his fellow writers as a teacher, mentor, editor, friend, board member, and good spirit. The award includes a $2,000 honorarium, in addition to travel, accommodations, and registration to attend AWP’s annual conference, where the award is publicly announced and conferred.

The award was conferred on John at the 2017 AWP Conference in Washington, D.C., in February.

“This year’s Garrett Award recipient…has helped to rescue injured children from Vietnam,” said David Haynes, chair of the AWP Board of Trustees, during the awards gala. “He supported and encouraged a student through her travails with breast and kidney cancer. He helped another student leave communist Romania. He helped countless students find jobs and build careers. His letters of nomination for this award are seasoned with place names of four or five continents, because that’s how big his horizons are, and it’s those global horizons to which he introduced his students. He is loved and admired by his students for his deep knowledge of literature and for his great knowledge of the world and its peoples.”

John is the author of twelve books of poetry and prose, including four volumes that together have won The Academy of American Poets’ Lamont prize, a National Poetry Series Selection, and two nominations for the National Book Award. His Locusts at the Edge of Summer: New and Selected Poems won the 1998 William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America. He was a 2003 Fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, and the 2001-2004 Phi Kappa Phi “National Artist.”

During the Vietnam War, on a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship in 1971-72, he traveled the countryside collecting on tape the oral poetry known as ca dao. His memoir, Remembering Heaven’s Face, was re-published by the University of Georgia Press after being out-of-print for many years. His translations of Vietnamese oral poetry were published in 2003 as Ca Dao Vietnam: A Bilingual Anthology of Vietnamese Folk Poetry (Copper Canyon Press). In 2000, Copper Canyon Press brought out his tri-glyphic Spring Essence: The Poetry of Ho Xuan Huong in which the old Nom script was printed for the first time. His most recent book of poetry is Path, Crooked Path (Copper Canyon, 2006).

In 1999, Balaban founded the Vietnamese Nôm Preservation Foundation, a 501c3 nonprofit, to preserve writing in the 1000-year heritage in the ancient Vietnamese script. He has been President of the Foundation since its inception. For further information, see http://nomfoundation.org.

Past award recipients include Maria Mazziotti Gillan, E. Ethelbert Miller, and North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame inductee Doris Betts, among others. The prize was founded in 2005.

Letters of nomination are accepted each year between August 1 and September 15 and should be submitted via AWP’s Submittable portal. To nominate a candidate for the George Garrett Award, please consult AWP’s award guidelines.