As part of its mission, the William F. Laman Public Library System strives to enhance the community by providing public access to literature and other information. In addition, Laman Library also seeks to encourage the creation of excellent literature by Arkansans, for Arkansans. For that reason, Laman Library founded the Laman Library Writers Fellowship in March 2010 to provide grants to the best of Arkansas’ writers.
Each year, a grant of up to $10,000 will be awarded in the first quarter to a previously published Arkansas author. The grant will be paid in consecutive monthly installments. Authors will be selected based on the creative excellence of their work by a group of literary professionals who are independent from Laman Library. The library will not be involved in the selection process, but reserves first right of refusal.
Applications for the 2015 fellowship will be accepted from
July 15, 2014 - Friday, November 14, 2014, 5pm.
To apply the author must be a current Arkansas resident and meet either of the two following conditions:
1. The author has been commissioned by a commercial American publisher to write a full-length work of fiction, poetry or non-fiction.
2. The author is without a contractual commitment by a publisher but has had at least one work published commercially by an American publisher (excluding vanity presses or self-publication), and there is a strong likelihood that their next work will be published in the United States.
1. Awards not based on financial need but rather on excellence of work.
2. Each recipient, within one year of receiving the fellowship, will submit a brief, written report regarding the use of funds.
3. In addition, recipients are asked to acknowledge Laman Library in any publications which fellowship funds assisted, and to provide a copy for Laman Library’s permanent collection.
Hope was born in New Orleans, the youngest of four children. She spent her early childhood in Little Rock, Arkansas, where her father was a pathologist at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Her mother was a member of the Women's Emergency Committee that worked to reopen the schools during the integration crisis of 1957-58. When Hope was five, the family moved to the central Louisiana city of Alexandria, where she attended public schools. She went to Harvard University, majored in English, and graduated Phi Beta Kappa, cum laude general studies, in 1982. After college Hope went to Zambia on a Rotary Fellowship, and in 1985 she moved to Little Rock.
Hope’s first two novels were published in 1988 and 1990 by August House Publishers, and her children’s picture book, Uncle Chuck’s Truck, came out in 1993 from Bradbury Press. Since 1993 she has taught creative writing at Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas. Her writing has won various awards, including a Pushcart nomination in 2008.
Hope is an avid birder and also enjoys travel, swimming, and hanging out with her dog, Jessie. She is married to nature and travel writer Mel White and has three children, one in grad school, one recently graduated from college, and one a senior in high school.
McCombs grew up in Kentucky and attended Harvard University, the University of Virginia and Stanford University. His first book, Ultima Thule (Yale, 2000), was the winner of the 1999 Yale Series of Younger Poets and called the ”finest Yale poets selection in years” by Publishers Weekly. It was also named one of the five finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Award. His second book, Dismal Rock (Tupelo, 2007), was awarded the Dorset Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award and the Kentucky Literary Award.
McCombs work has appeared in The Best American Poetry, The Missouri Review, the American Poetry Review and many other magazines and journals. He has also received fellowships from the Ruth Lilly Poetry Foundation, the Kentucky Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Mara Leveritt is a veteran Arkansas reporter, contributing editor at Arkansas Times and author of two nonfiction books about crime and public corruption. She has focused her writing for the past 30 years on police, courts and prisons. Leveritt has been named Arkansas Journalist of the Year and both her books were awarded the Booker Worthen Prize.
Leveritt is the author of The Boys on the Tracks, about murder and prosecutorial corruption in Saline County, and more famously Devil’s Knot, about the deeply problematic trials of the men known as the West Memphis Three. She covered the West Memphis case from the teenagers’ arrests in 1993 for the murders of three eight-year-old children, to the men’s abrupt release from prison in August 2011, after 18 years and the state’s agreement to an unprecedented Alford plea. She continues to advocate for the men’s exoneration and an honest investigation of the murders at the heart of their case.
Leveritt, who was born in Chicago and raised in Denver, moved to Arkansas in 1970. She paid her first visit to an Arkansas prison in 1972, when the state operated fewer than five units. Her reporting career has coincided with the so-called “War on Drugs,” allowing her to witness close-up the explosive growth of Arkansas’s prisons. Throughout, she has documented major problems in the state’s justice system and advocated for reforms. Though Leveritt is not an attorney, she speaks widely on legal matters, and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s Law Journal recently published her commentary on the growing tension between courts’ opinions of themselves and mounting public concerns about the way courts are administering justice.
Kevin Brockmeier is the author of the novels The Illumination, The Brief History of the Dead, and The Truth About Celia; the children's novels City of Names and Grooves: A Kind of Mystery; and the story collections Things That Fall from the Sky and The View from the Seventh Layer. His work has been translated into fifteen languages, and he has published his stories in such venues as The New Yorker, The Georgia Review, McSweeney's, Zoetrope, Tin House, The Oxford American, The Best American Short Stories, The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, and New Stories from the South. He has received the Borders Original Voices Award, three O. Henry Awards (one, a first prize), the PEN USA Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and an NEA Grant. Recently he was named one of Granta magazine's Best Young American Novelists. He lives in Little Rock, Arkansas, where he was raised.
The 2010 fellowship was awarded to Grif Stockley to assist him as he completes his book on the 1959 fire at the Negro Boys Industrial School in Wrightsville. Stockley will recount the tragedy of 21 black teenagers who burned to death in a small dormitory that was pad-locked from the outside.
Stockley, an award-winning Arkansas author, has published 10 books, including six novels that he categorizes as “lawyer mysteries,” and is also widely known for his nonfiction work on race relations in Arkansas. Stockley has won the Porter Prize for fiction and is a member of the Arkansas Writers Hall of Fame.