Howard Frank Mosher Wins Prestigious Arts Prize

Photo by Jake Mosher

Author Howard Frank Mosher is a Vermont literary institution. A resident of the state for 53 years, he has published eleven novels set in Vermont (four of them made into films by director Jay Craven), and two memoirs.

He has just been named the 2017 winner of the Herb Lockwood Prize in Arts. The Herb Lockwood Prize is an annual celebration of artistic excellence at a level that inspires other artists and enriches the community. The Prize recognizes one Vermont artist each year who meets these criteria

  • The artist’s work demonstrates a high level of artistic achievement, coupled with originality, innovation, and imagination.
  • The artist’s creativity, drive and philosophy serve as inspiration to other artists.
  • The artist has had a beneficent influence on the Vermont community.

Mediums for consideration include visual arts, music, writing, drama, dance, film, and fine woodworking. Modeled on preeminent national awards in various disciplines, there is no application process, and artists do not know they are being considered for the Prize. Nominations are provided by anonymous arts advisors located throughout Vermont.

The Prize includes a cash award. The 2017 award was $10,000. Burlington City Arts Foundation is honored to administer this prize created through the generosity of private donors.

Burlington City Arts announces each year’s winner at five o’clock in the afternoon on the third Tuesday in June. (Due to special circumstances, the 2017 Prize was announced on January 27.)

The purpose of the Prize is fourfold: to validate the work of the recipient, to energize that artist’s future, to encourage other artists to work ambitiously and to honor Herb Lockwood’s memory by continuing his inspirational influence.

Mosher’s titles are iconic and instantly recognizable: A Stranger in the Kingdom, Where the Rivers Flow North, Disappearances, Waiting for Teddy Williams.

His subject is always Vermont, but not in a postcard way. Rather, he brings rough and tumble hill folk to life, exposes racism and narrow mindedness, and finds generosity and humor in the most modest of places. He is the bard of the Northeast Kingdom, although in his books it is called Kingdom County.

After he was diagnosed with cancer in 2008 (and underwent 46 radiation treatments), Mosher embarked on a literary tour of America, covering 20,000 miles in his aging Chevy Celebrity as he visited the 100 best independent bookstores in the country. His book on that trip, The Great Northern Express, was hailed as hilarious and poignant, half memoir and half an American road book classic.

His craft and character have been widely recognized, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Award, an American Academy of Arts and Letters Literature Award, the Vermont Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, and the New England Independent Booksellers Association President’s Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts.

Mosher’s works are landmarks, but his personal style is modesty personified. At one writers’ conference, in which the instructors were given 150 words to deliver their biography, his entire bio read: “Howard Frank Mosher is a writer in Vermont.”

On his blog, Mosher uses his words to praise books by other Vermont writers worthy of greater recognition, to celebrate small bookstores, and to support small publishers—always the ones based in Vermont. He has helped many a Vermont writer with words of encouragement, even those yet to be published.

Howard Frank Mosher is a Vermont treasure in the fullest sense of the word.

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