Local art that's worth its salt

Stone Canoe launches third issue:

"I had given up," said Stephanie Waterman. "Really. I'd burned my novel, thrown away my stories. I had been doing this for so long and it had not worked out."

So said Waterman the evening of January 31st at the Delavan Center Gallery, a few minutes after the speeches and awards at the Stone Canoe 3 launch. Waterman, of Onondaga Nation, received the 2009 Galson Fiction Prize for "The Scribe," a quietly luminous story about a woman, tired from the day's chores, who writes letters for an elder who had been sent far away to one of the infamous Indian boarding schools in his youth.

Underwritten by Nirelle and Alan Galson, this award plus $500 goes to the best short story published each year in Stone Canoe: A Journal of Arts and Ideas from Upstate New York. Jennifer Marsh received this year's Hedy and Michael Fawcett Visual Arts Prize for her fabric wrap of the abandoned gas station on Colvin Street, and Farah Marklevits the Bea Gonz lez Poetry Prize, funded by the Dean of Syracuse University's University College, the Stone Canoe project's home. To Mary Lynn Mahan went the Burton Blatt Institute Arts Leadership Prize for arts inclusiveness for her photo and visual literacy project at Ed Smith School, a collaboration with Light Work's Mary Lee Hodgens.

So far there's no non-fiction prize. This year's group makes it clear one should be in place by next issue. There are a dozen strong essays, some drenched in place - Donna Emerson on her family home outside the Southern Tier village of Bath, Joan Potter on her mother's early life in northern Adirondack Tupper Lake, Donna Steiner on winter along Lake Ontario's shore stand out -- then Mary Karr's weekly Washington Post column "Poet's Choice" featuring Stephen Dunn. There's one review, Georgia Popoff on poet Karen Swenson -- overall editor and angel-in-chief Bob Colley says he'd like more in future issues -- and guest fiction editor, Eric Gansworth of Buffalo's Canisius College, has his own extraordinarily rich interview with novelist Russell Banks.

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