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Jim Hoy

The Emporia Gazette

Jim Hoy has been named the winner of the 2021 Byron Caldwell Smith Book Award, the Hall Center for the Humanities at the University of Kansas announced Wednesday.

The awards are given in three categories: fiction, poetry and nonfiction.

Hoy’s book, “My Flint Hills: Observations and Reminiscences from America’s Last Tallgrass Prairie” (University Press of Kansas, 2020), was selected along with “Remembering Emmett Till” by Dave Tell (University of Chicago Press, 2019) for the nonfiction award.

Hoy is professor emeritus at Emporia State University and has always called the Flint Hills home. Over the decades, he has made a study of “their tough terrain and quiet beauty, their distinctive folk life and cattle culture,” bringing his observations of the Flint Hills home to readers “in a singular way.”

“‘My Flint Hills: Observations and Reminiscences from America’s Last Tallgrass Prairie’ combines family lore and anecdotes of ranching life with reflections on the region’s rich history and nature,” the Hall Center said in a written release.

The rest of the 2021 awardees are as follows:


Patricia Lawson, “Odd Ducks” (BkMk Press, 2020)

This debut collection of nine humorous stories, set in and around Kansas City from the 1950s to the 2000s, often depicts adults awkwardly mentoring talented young people, whether in a community garden, a library or in one-on-one advice. Other characters feel like outsiders in their own neighborhoods or suddenly become outsiders when straying into unfamiliar places. Patricia Lawson’s work has appeared in Pleiades, The Dalhousie Review, New Letters and elsewhere. She taught for many years at Kansas City Kansas Community College and was an associate editor of The Same. “Odd Ducks” is her solo fiction debut.


Janice Northerns, “Some Electric Hum” (Lamar University Literary Press, 2020)

Janice Northerns’ debut collection, “Some Electric Hum,” disentangles the gnarled branches of a family tree into poems of complicated love and endurance. Deeply engaged with place, these poems range across Texas to Kansas to hold up the objects and people that create a personal history and “grapple with words just west of the tongue.” Northerns, who grew up on a farm in in rural West Texas, currently lives in southwest Kansas.

Nonfiction (shared):

In “Remembering Emmett Till,” Dave Tell, KU professor of communication studies, gives five accounts of the commemoration of the infamous crime. In a development no one could have foreseen, Till’s murder — one of the darkest moments in Mississippi’s history — has become an economic driver for the Delta. Historical tourism has transformed seemingly innocuous places like bridges, boat landings, gas stations and riverbeds into sites of racial politics, reminders of the still unsettled question of how best to remember the victim of this heinous crime. Tell builds an insightful and persuasive case for how these memorials have altered the Delta’s physical and cultural landscape.

The Byron Caldwell Smith Award was established at the bequest of Kate Stephens, a former KU student and one of KU’s first women professors. As an undergraduate, Stephens learned to love the study of Greek language and literature from Professor Byron Caldwell Smith. She established this award in his name. It is given biennially to individuals who live or are employed in Kansas and who have written an outstanding book published in the previous two years. The next Byron Caldwell Smith Awards will be given in 2023.

The winners will receive their awards and deliver brief remarks about their award-winning books at a public presentation, book signing and celebratory reception at the Hall Center for the Humanities. That event, which is free and open to the public, would normally take place later this fall, but due to the current surge in COVID-19 infections, it will take place instead in 2022. The date and time will be announced in due course.

(2) comments


Congratulations Dr. Hoy, the "cowboy poet." What great news! I cannot wait to read it. You make Emporia proud.


Congratulations to Dr. Hoy and the other awardees. Making all of us proud!

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