|Cathy Smith Bowers|
Bowers, a native of Lancaster, S.C., and a former N.C. poet laureate, lives in Tryon.
Fred Chappell of Greensboro, another former N.C. poet laureate, says of Bowers's poems: "Hardship, cruelty, heartbreak, bleak sorrow -- these sad themes are plentiful in the pages of Cathy Smith Bowers. But in its smoldering heart, her poetry holds, like the pinata in 'The Party,' 'a sweet, dark center.' "
Bowers is an instructor in Queens University's low-residency MFA program. She is at work on a novel.
Others winners are Sarah Dessen of Chapel Hill in the young adult category for "The Moon and More" (Viking). Self-described as an "author, mother, worrier," Dessen is the author of ten young adult novels, among them the bestselling "What Happened to Goodbye."
In the novel category, the winner is "Whistling Past the Graveyard" (Simon & Schuster), by Susan Crandall of Indiana. A coming-of-age novel, set in Mississippi in the early 1960s, "Whistling" is Crandall's ninth novel.
John Currence's "Pickles, Pigs & Whiskey: Recipes from my Three Favorite Food Groups and Then Some" (Andrews McMeel) is the winner in the cooking category. Currence owns City Grocery Restaurant Group in Oxford, Miss., and the new book is also up for a James Beard Award.
In non-fiction, the winner is "Five Days At Memorial: Life and Death in Storm-Ravaged Hospital" (Crown) by Pulitzer-winning investigative reporter Sheri Fink. Fink is a physician who reconstructs the five days after Hurricane Katrina struck, when the floodwaters rose, the power failed and the heat climbed.
"The Girl from Felony Bay" (Walden Pond Books) by J.E. Thompson of Charleston, is the children's book winner. Thompson grew up reading the Hardy Boys books and worked for 25 years as an investment banker before turning to writing. (He says his daughter is his best critic.) "The Girl" is a fast-paced mystery for middle-schoolers, set on the coast of South Carolina.