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The Porter Fund, established in 1984, is a not-for-profit unincorporated association founded in honor of Dr. Ben Kimpel, who was chairman of the English department at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). It supports the written arts in the state of Arkansas, specifically by awarding an annual prize, which has been designated as the “Porter Prize,” to an Arkansas writer. (At Kimpel’s request, the prize was named in memory of his mother, Gladys Crane Kimpel Porter.) The prize is funded strictly with private donations and is presented annually at an awards ceremony to an Arkansas writer who has accomplished a substantial and impressive body of work that merits enhanced recognition. Its prize, $2,000, makes it one of the state’s most lucrative and prestigious literary awards.
Eligibility requires that the writer live in the state or be connected to Arkansas in some meaningful capacity. Honorees tend to be writers without high profile or national reputations but who have nevertheless produced a substantial and impressive body of work. The Porter Prize is not a contest. The winners are selected on a confidential basis by the past winners of the prize, who nominate and vote. In case of a tie, the award is shared.
Jack Butler, noted author of Living in Little Rock with Miss Little Rock, and Phillip H. McMath, attorney and writer (most notably of the Lost Kingdoms trilogy), founded the prize in 1984 in memory of Dr. Kimpel, their former teacher at UA.
Four lifetime achievement awards have been bestowed, honoring Dee Brown, Donald Harington, Miller Williams, and Charles Portis.
The prize winners are:
Hope Norman Coulter
Andrea Hollander Budy
No prize was awarded
Donald “Skip” Hays
Trenton Lee Stewart
Margaret Jones Bolsterli
For additional information:
Porter Prize. http://www.porter-prize.com/ (accessed March 4, 2014).
Phillip H. McMath
Last Updated 7/11/2017
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