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Veterans Writing Award 2023 winner

Robin Caudell. Photography By Carly Newton.

Syracuse University Press is thrilled to announce Black Heel Strings: A Choptank Memoir by Robin Michel Caudell is the 2023 Veterans Writing Award winner. Caudell is Nikki’s mom and an award-winning Press-Republican staff writer. Her work-in-progress is a speculative documentary, Witness Tree at Union Road, in collaboration with The John B. Moore Documentary Studies Collaborative at Skidmore College and the North Country Underground Railroad Historical Association, of which she is a Founding Board Trustee. Her poetry has been anthologized in national and international publications. A Native of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, Caudell is a graduate of the University of Maryland at College Park and Goddard College. She is an alumna of Cave Canem, Gotham Writers Workshop, Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. She served in the U.S. Air Force and was a John L. Levitow Honor Graduate.

Veterans Writing Award judge Anuradha Bhagwati praised Caudell’s work, noting “The author’s gifts recall Toni Morrison. Sentence after sentence reads like poetry. The earth and sea come alive through her words, as though the author’s language gave birth to the natural world itself. Simply stunning.”

Syracuse University Press, in cooperation with the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF), established the Veterans Writing Award in 2019. The mission of the award is to recognize the contributions of veterans to the literary arts, shine a light on the multivalent veteran experience, and provide a platform for unrecognized military writers.

2021 Winner
Surrender by Brian O’Hare

2019 Winner
Revolutions of All Colors: A Novel by Dewaine Farria

Honorable Mention
Mona Passage: A Novel by Thomas Bardenwerper