Tag Archives: Brevard County Literary Foundation

Inaugural Patrick D. Smith Award for Literary Excellence

9 Mar

My Take

DiVoran Lites

Beck and Ned Keller  Award

Patrick D. Smith was one of my favorite authors. When I was a younger writer, I read his books and went to hear him speak. The first time he described lush Florida as it was when he came here as a boy I was hooked on his powers of observation and description.

I enjoyed the movie they made of his book, “Angel City,” which was about migrant workers in Florida. Patrick Smith actually lived as a migrant worker in a camp and risked his life to document the cruelty and rough conditions there.

“Patrick D. Smith’s sixth book was the best-selling, A Land Remembered. This novel depicts “three generations of the Maclveys, a Florida family who battles the hardships of the frontier to rise from a dirt-poor Cracker life to the wealth and standing of real estate tycoons.”*The last generation in the book realizes that the family has over-used the land and makes plans to rectify their mistakes. It has also been made into a movie. (Amazon blurb)

“Patrick Smith is a 1999 inductee into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame, which is the highest and most prestigious cultural honor that can be bestowed upon an individual by the state of Florida. Smith is the author of seven novels and has been nominated three times for the Pulitzer Prize. His lifetime work was nominated for the 1985 Nobel Prize for Literature.”

Patrick D Smith

Rebekah Lyn’s book, , is a perfect continuation of . It moves into the next stage of Florida’s history with the story of a young man whose family members are ordered to leave their home on North Merritt Island because the country needs the land for a center from which to launch rockets into space.http://patricksmithonline.com/patricksmith.html

Rebekah Lyn’s book, Jessie, is a perfect continuation of A Land Remembered. It moves into the next stage of Florida’s history with the story of a young man whose family members are ordered to leave their home on North Merritt Island because the country needs the land for a center from which to launch rockets into space.

Most of the people we know here in Brevard County have been, or are currently, involved with the Space Program. It has been our town’s main industry since the late fifties, and Rebekah Lyn got first hand accounts from many of them. Her research is impeccable as are her characterizations.

In my opinion, there is no better way to learn history than from enjoyable, readable fiction.

A Land Remembered is now a two volume text book with study guide and I’d love to see the same thing happen to Jessie. Not long before Patrick Smith died, members of The Brevard County Library Foundation visited him and presented the idea of the award. He was pleased and gave the group his permission to create the award in his honor. The foundation’s president felt the award’s creation memorialized the passing of a much-loved Florida author, yet reaches out to recognize and encourage a new generation of writers.

Five of the seven judges attended the awards ceremony. All were college professors and several were Ph.Ds. When asked how tough it was to select a winner, they agreed there was no question, Jessie was it!

When asked about the award, Rebekah Lyn said having the chance to talk to the judges and hear what they enjoyed most was exciting. They only received the first 30 pages of the book, and they all said they wanted to read more. I was happy to let them know the whole book is available and that a follow-up is in the works. One of the judges complimented me on how relatable and loveable the characters were, another commented on how each of the brothers had a distinctive voice and obvious role to play in the family, and a third judge enjoyed how well I captured the wildness of the Merritt Island landscape.

The award ceremony was planned to have been an outdoor evening event on the lawn by the Indian River. Stormy weather  pushed the event inside, but it didn’t damper our joy. Along with myself, Rebekah was accompanied by her parents, and close friends Jennifer and Pam Gheen.

 

A Land Remembered

A Land Remembered

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