‘The Book of Endings’ shortlisted for National Book Awards


The University of Akron Press announced today that its recent publication, Leslie Harrison’s “The Book of Endings,” is one of only five titles shortlisted for the 2017 National Book Award in Poetry. Appearance on this list marks the UA Press as among the most distinguished publishers of poetry in the nation.

Regarded as some of the nation’s most prestigious literary awards, the National Book Awards are administered by the National Book Foundation, a nonprofit organization devoted to recognizing the best in American literature. The National Book Foundation divides awards into four categories of literature — fiction, nonfiction, poetry and young people’s literature. Only 10 titles were placed on each longlist on Sept. 15, and five titles made the shortlist as announced today, Oct. 4. Winners will be announced at the annual ceremony on Nov. 15.


Leslie Harrison

“We are so proud for Akron and the University,” says Dr. Jon Miller, the director of the UA Press, upon hearing the news that “The Book of Endings,” is a finalist. “What a great honor to add for the community.”

Difficult themes

The author of the book, Leslie Harrison, was the 2015 UA Press Editor's Choice selection for “The Book of Endings,” because of her profound engagement in themes of death, grief and loss. Every year, the Akron Poetry Prize receives between 400 and 600 submissions for publication. However, only two manuscripts are published — the editor’s choice selection and the final contest winner.

“Every year I read all of the submissions and make my editor’s choice selection from that pool of manuscripts,” says Dr. Mary Biddinger, the editor for the Akron Series in Poetry. “I am thankful that the National Book Foundation admires this poetry collection as much as I do.”

Harrison “has a talent for taking risks in her poems while still connecting with readers,” continues Biddinger, a professor of English. “Whether she is subverting the conventions of punctuation or delving into subjects that set us beyond our comfort zone, Harrison alerts us to overlooked aspects of everyday life, and encourages us to think deeply. Her experiments are organic to the poems, and audiences connect with her work on an intuitive level. A wide variety of readers can find comfort and wisdom in “The Book of Endings.”

Book-of-Endings-cover-with logo-600

Biddinger, as well as Miller, also a professor of English, recognize the involvement of all the students and faculty involved in helping to achieve this recognition.

“As director of the Press, I am grateful for the selection of “The Book of Endings” because it not only recognizes the outstanding work of the author, it also recognizes the outstanding work and support of all the people behind the Akron Series in Poetry,” Miller states.

Collaborative effort

Contributions to the publication come from former authors and fellow poets, who encourage poets to submit and help judge the contest; the editorial board, which endorsed this particular title; the book designer, Amy Freels, who designed the cover; Julie Gammon, the marketing manager; student employees and interns; Dr. Aimee deChambeau, dean of University Libraries; the administration at The University of Akron; and the people at Bookmasters of Ashland, who help the UA Press produce quality books at an affordable cost to readers.

“Awards like this are very rare and special, and it is great to see this reflected on these people,” notes Miller. 

Media outlets interested in a review copy may contact Gammon at 1-330-972-6962 or jgammon@uakron.edu.

The book is for available for sale in both print and digital forms through all major booksellers as well as the The University of Akron Press website.

Story by Erica Cantrell

Media contact: Lisa Craig, 330-972-7429 or lmc91@uakron.edu.