Literary Awards to Hou, Gordon, & Wheeler

Christine Shan Shan Hou, Liz Gordon, Theodore Wheeler
Winners of the 2014 Key West Literary Seminar Awards for Emerging Writers. Clockwise from top left: Christine Shan Shan Hou, Liz Gordon, and Theodore Wheeler.

We are thrilled to announce the winners of this year’s awards for emerging writers:

Scotti Merrill Award
selected by Billy Collins

Cecelia Joyce Horton Johnson Fiction Award

Marianne Russo Award

Merrill Award winner Christine Shan Shan Hou is a poet, artist, and critic living in Brooklyn. A 2007 graduate of Bard College, Hou’s forthcoming publication Food Cuts Short Cuts (The New Megaphone, 2014) stems from an investigation into her Chinese-American heritage and Chinese-Hakka identity from a contemporary and queer perspective. Her poems have appeared in Weekday, Bone Bouquet, Belladonna*, Gwarlingo, and ILK; her artwork has been featured in LIT, The Atlas Review, and tender; and she writes about performance art for Hyperallergic Weekend and The Performance Club. Previous honors include The Flow Chart Foundation/The Academy for American Poets Award and the Zora Neale Hurston Scholarship for Naropa University’s Summer Writing Program. Visit

Johnson Award winner Liz Gordon grew up in Boston in the midst of a large working-class family, with four siblings and sixteen aunts and uncles. She enrolled in nursing school at Massachusetts General Hospital and went on to work as a nurse, marry, and have a family. Gordon later enrolled at the University of Connecticut and Connecticut College, where she earned a bachelor’s degree, and Brown University, where she earned a master’s in playwriting and poetry. Her short plays have been performed at the Rhode Island Playwrights’ Festival and a novel excerpt, “Blood Dimmed Tide,” was awarded second prize in the 2010 Soul-Making Contest sponsored by the San Francisco Pen Women. She is currently at work on a novel.

Russo Award winner Theodore Wheeler is a thirty-two-year-old fiction writer and novelist from Omaha. He holds a master’s degree in literature and creative writing from Creighton University and works as a legal reporter covering the civil court systems of Nebraska and Western Iowa. His short fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Best New American Voices, The Kenyon Review, Boulevard, Confrontation, Five Chapters, and The Cincinnati Review, among other venues, and he was recently awarded a fellowship from Akademie Schloss Solitude to spend the summer of 2014 writing in Stuttgart, Germany. He lives with his wife and two daughters, and is currently at work on a novel based on the events of the Omaha Race Riot of 1919.

Congratulations to Christine, Liz, and Ted! We’re excited to meet you in Key West this January.

The KWLS Scholarship Program aims to nourish a vibrant literary culture by providing support to teachers and librarians while promoting the work of new voices in American literature. Each year, our Scotti Merrill Memorial Award, Cecelia Joyce Horton Johnson Fiction Award, and Marianne Russo Award recognize emerging writers of exceptional merit. We believe this year’s winners are dynamic writers with the voice, skill, and poise to succeed at the national level.

We are grateful to Cecelia Joyce Johnson, Peyton Evans and the Rodel Charitable Foundation-Florida, and the Dogwood Foundation for providing the funds which will support our scholarship program for years to come.

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