Amber Dermont Awarded NEA Literature Fellowship

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Amber Dermont, associate professor of English and creative writing at Agnes Scott College, has been awarded a Literature Fellowship by The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

The NEA Literature Fellowships program offers $25,000 grants in prose (fiction and creative nonfiction) and poetry to published creative writers that enable the recipients to set aside time for writing, research, travel and general career advancement.

“A fiction writer’s life is shaped by sustained periods of solitude and self-doubt. I am grateful to the NEA for awarding me a Literature Fellowship, not simply for the generous financial support, but for the vital sense of artistic community the award provides,” Dermont said. “Hopefully all of the recipients will feel a little less alone and a little more encouraged in their work. I am humbled by the award and challenged by the opportunities it will provide.”

Dermont plans to use the NEA grant to continue to research and revise her manuscript for her second novel, The Laughing Girl. In 1962, a plane crash outside of Paris, France took the lives of over a hundred of Atlanta's most dedicated art patrons. The crash had a lasting impact on the Atlanta art world and serves as the backdrop for the novel.

Dermont said the novel was inspired in part from her teaching.

“One of the great joys of teaching at Agnes Scott is watching my students develop their own singular voices. I often give students writing prompts to trigger and guide them as they discover their stories,” Dermont said. “My rule is that any assignment I give to my students, I have to be willing to write as well. I completed portions of my novel, The Starboard Sea, and my short story collection, Damage Control, as a result of some of these assignments. My new novel manuscript, The Laughing Girl, springs from one of these triggers as well.”

“It is incredibly exciting that Professor Dermont has been selected for this highly competitive and prestigious award,” said Carolyn J. Stefanco, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college at Agnes Scott. “In addition to recognizing her amazing talent as a writer, it also reinforces our own commitment at Agnes Scott College to nurturing the professional development of faculty and to helping our women students to find their voice through creative writing and other forms of artistic expression.”

Dermont’s short stories have recently appeared in American Short Fiction, Crazyhorse, Open City, Tin House, Zoetrope: All-Story and in the anthologies Best New American Voices, Best American Nonrequired Reading and The Worst Years of Your Life.

Dermont is the author of the novel The Starboard Sea and the short story collection Damage Control, both forthcoming from St. Martin’s Press. A graduate of The University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she received her Ph.D. in literature and creative writing from the University of Houston.

Agnes Scott College educates women to think deeply, live honorably and engage the intellectual and social challenges of their times. Students are drawn to Agnes Scott by its excellent academic reputation, exceptional faculty and metropolitan Atlanta location—offering myriad social, cultural and experiential learning opportunities. This highly selective liberal arts college is known for its diverse and dynamic intellectual community. Through SUMMIT, it provides every student, regardless of major, with an individualized course of study and co-curricular experiences that develop leadership abilities and understanding of complex global dynamics.