Dzanc Prize 2009 Winner:
Eugene Cross

Eugene Cross of Erie, Pennsylvania is the winner of the third annual $5,000 Dzanc Prize. Cross was selected from more than 100 applicants for both the quality of his fiction writing, as well as his proposal to set up and run a progressive series of creative workshops for refugees from Nepal, Sudan and Bhutan, in Erie. For his community service, Cross will conduct three 4-month workshops in concurrence with an ESL class currently being taught. We at Dzanc found Eugene’s conviction in the importance of providing the tools for self-expression to these displaced individuals to be a monumentally significant undertaking. Eugene’s work will help people going through an extremely tough time find a means of expression and a way to share their experiences. Throughout the workshop there will be an exploration of the personal histories of the students, as well as that of language. Cross, a Lecturer in English/Creative Writing at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, will begin his service within the next month,.

Steven Gillis, Publisher of Dzanc Books, notes: “Eugene's writing has that perfect blend of modernism and classic storytelling, is at once humorous and sexy, intelligent and provocative, and is at the same time composed and controlled. We were also very much moved by Eugene's service program. With all that is going on in the world, and in particular as the devastation in Haiti this past week is front page news, we found Eugene's desire to work with refugees in the telling of their stories a wonderful and timely idea. All taken together, we at Dzanc are proud to have Eugene as our recipient of the 2009 Dzanc Prize."

Cross, a native of Erie, Pennsylvania, and graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, is currently working on a short story collection, Fires of Our Choosing, and plans to complete that. He says, "I'm excited and extremely honored to have been selected for the 2009 Dzanc Prize. The award will give me the opportunity to work closely with Nepalese, Bhutanese, and Sudanese refugees as they write and share their amazing stories even as they continue to unfold. I'm also deeply grateful for the opportunity to continue working on my manuscript while engaging in literary outreach with a civic-minded organization such as Dzanc."

Eugene Cross teaches English and Creative Writing at Penn State University-Erie, where he received the 2008 Faculty Scholarship. His stories have appeared in Storyglossia, Guernica, Hobart, Third Coast, and other literary journals. Currently, he is completing a collection of short fiction tentatively titled Fires of Our Choosing. To interview Eugene, please contact Dan Wickett at dan@dzancbooks.org.