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Kent Nelson Wins Literature Prize

Visiting Faculty Member Has Many CC Ties

Kent Nelson, winner of the Colorado Book Award and who has taught as a visiting writer in the English department, has been awarded the 2014 Drue Heinz Literature Prize, one of the nation's most prestigious awards for a book of short fiction. Nelson's manuscript, "Spirit Bird" was selected from a field of 350 entries and will be published this fall by the University of Pittsburgh Press.

Nelson has served as the Ebey Creative Writing Professor and taught an Advanced Fiction Workshop at Colorado College during the fall semester of 2009. He also has taught a range of courses, including Beginning Fiction, Screenwriting, Writing Colorado, and Ecofiction, in Colorado College's Summer Session program for the past 10 years.

His novels include "Language in the Blood" and "Land That Moves, Land That Stands Still." His short fiction has been included in "The Best American Short Stories," "The Best of the West," "O. Henry," and "The Best American Mystery Stories."

Nelson's mother, Jane Sutton Nelson, graduated from CC in 1933, and his grandmother, Anna von Bibra Sutton, taught in the German department, where an award is named in her honor. His daughter, Dylan Nelson, is an assistant professor in CC's interdisciplinary Film and New Media Studies.

"Writing stories for me is exploration and discovery," said Nelson, adding that in most of his stories, he has no idea how the tales will end. "I started all these stories with a character in a place and figured out from there where the story might go," he said. "This required writing the first page 10 or so times, often more, as I made new decisions about the character and what might happen.

"What Peter O'Toole said about acting applies as well to writing: It's a blend of magic and sweat," he said.

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