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the [margins.] awards

the story of the [margins.] awards is as the story of the conference:

reclaiming the beauty of what we create without denying the battles we fight to be here


centering our souls in imagination, celebrating the reality of our industriousness

and so were born three awards that are ours—that hold our words, our journeys, as our own:

the rishi award  |  the rasquache award  |  the alchemy award


the rishi award

is an acknowledgment of a literary artist, a seer or sage and culture bearer whose work reminds us that diverse voices are essential to a thriving cultural landscape

Rishi Award

our 2022 rishi award winner is:

Valerie Bolling .jpg

Valerie Bolling

Valerie Bolling is the author of LET’S DANCE!, a 2021 SCBWI Crystal Kite award winner and CT Book Award finalist, and TOGETHER WE RIDE, which has received starred reviews from the Horn Book and School Library Journal. Valerie is looking forward to the release of RIDE, ROLL, RUN: TIME FOR FUN! in October. Sequels to these books (TOGETHER WE SWIM and BING, BOP, BAM: TIME TO JAM!) as well as a Scholastic early reader series, RAINBOW DAYS, are slated for 2023.


A graduate of Tufts University and Columbia University, Teachers College, Valerie has been an educator for 30 years. She currently works as an Instructional Coach for Greenwich Public Schools and teaches picture book writing classes. She is also a WNDB mentor and deeply immersed in the kidlit writing community, particularly involved with SCBWI, the 12X12 Picture Book Challenge, Black Creators HeadQuarters, Diverse Verse, and KidLit in Color.


Valerie and her husband live in Connecticut and enjoy traveling, hiking, reading, going to the theater, and dancing. 

Image: Picture of Valerie Bolling, wearing earrings and a necklace, a purple shirt, standing

in front of a row of books. 


the rasquache award

is an acknowledgement of a literary artist whose way of working honors and celebrates inherent cultural wealth and the ability to sustain our communities with our existing resources

Rasquache Award

our 2022 rasquache award winner is:

Billy-Ray Belcourt is a writer and academic from the Driftpile Cree Nation. He is an Assistant Professor in the Creative Writing Program at the University of British Columbia. A 2018 Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Scholar, he earned his PhD in English at the University of Alberta. He was also a 2016 Rhodes Scholar and holds an M.St. in Women's Studies from the University of Oxford and Wadham College. In the First Nations Youth category, Belcourt was awarded a 2019 Indspire Award, which is the highest honor the Indigenous community bestows on its own leaders. He is the author of three books: This Wound is a World, NDN Coping Mechanisms: Notes from the Field, and A History of My Brief Body.


Billy-Ray’s debut book of poems, This Wound is a World (Frontenac House 2017), won the 2018 Griffin Poetry Prize (making him the youngest ever winner) and the 2018 Robert Kroetsch City of Edmonton Book Prize. It was also named the Most Significant Book of Poetry in English by an Emerging Indigenous Writer at the 2018 Indigenous Voices Awards. This Wound is a World was a finalist for the 2018 Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry, the 2018 Robert Kroetsch Award for Poetry, the 2018 Gerald Lampert Memorial Award, and the 2018 Raymond Souster Award, both of the latter via the Canadian League of Poets. It was also named by CBC Books as the best “Canadian poetry” collection of 2017. U.S. (University of Minnesota Press) and French (Groupe Nota Bene) editions of the book are now available.


His sophomore book, NDN Coping Mechanisms: Notes from the Field, a national bestseller, is out now. According to Open Book, the book “cements [Belcourt] as one of the most imaginative and creative writers in the country.” Of the poems, the Toronto Star says “both intellectual and visceral, [they] dazzle with metaphoric richness and striking lyricism.” It was longlisted for Canada Reads 2020 and shortlisted for the 2020 Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry, the 2020 Robert Kroetsch City of Edmonton Book Prize, and the 2020 Raymond Souster Award. It won the 2020 Stephan G. Stephansson Award for Poetry.


His third book, A History of my Brief Body, essays and vignettes on grief, colonial violence, joy, love, and queerness, published in Canada in August 2020 with Hamish Hamilton, an imprint of Penguin Canada, and in the US with Two Dollar Radio. It was a #1 National Bestseller, a Globe & Mail Best Book, and is a finalist for the 2020 Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction, a 2021 Lambda Literary Award for Gay Memoir/Biography, and two BC and Yukon Book Prizes. In a starred review, Kirkus Reviews called it “elegantly crafted” and “an urgently needed, unyielding book of theoretical and intimate strength.”


His fourth book, A Minor Chorus, will be published in the fall of 2022 by Hamish Hamilton (CAN) and W.W. Norton (US).


Image: Billy-Ray Belcourt standing with hands in jacket pockets, in front of a brick wall that is painted green, pink, and yellow. Billy-Ray is wearing a jean jacket with tan collar and burnt orange button down shirt with burgundy pattern. 

Billy-Ray Belcourt

a minor chorus.jpeg

the alchemy award

is an acknowledgement of an organizer or organization whose work in the literary arts is to craft and conjure a more inclusive and equitable world

Alchemy Award

our 2022 alchemy award winner is:

Hakeem Furious is a wordsmith hailing from Jacksonville, Florida. and developing his roots in the Rocky Mountains. He graduated from a southern arts high school as a theater major and developed a knack for words when he was involved with the spoken word community established at Florida A&M University. An HBCU that cultivated his understanding, appreciation, and preservation of black culture and resilience. Currently, he travels the country performing poetry, curating shows, writing curriculum, and grants as CEO of the #UltraTerrestrialTour. Furious’ notable performances include final stage appearance at the 2015 National Poetry Slam, two-time appearance at the infamous Apollo Theater and ranking #6 in the world at the 2019 Individual World Poetry Slam. He is part of lyricist collective CAP 6, who has shared stages with various artists including Earl Sweatshirt, Vince Staples, Talib Kweli, Dj Premier, Saba PiVOT and many more.  In 2018, CAP 6 released and toured their debut project “Jelly”, available on all platforms. In 2014, he released his debut project, “Leaky Nostrils, Monogamous Swans”, a blend of Hip Hop and Poetry. Following it with his 2017 release of his first book, “Dinner with The Ego and i” accompanied by a national book tour called, “The Ego Trip”.


Image: Hakeem Furious wearing a black hat, with a white button down with black burst pattern. He is looking toward the camera with head tilted to the right of the frame. Photo take by Alexander Vue.

Hakeem Furious

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