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Richard Hermes and Grist Win Parnassus Award

Rachel Guy

Richard Hermes  and Grist: A Journal of the Literary Arts, the graduate student-run literary journal of the University of Tennessee, received the Parnassus Award for Significant Editorial Achievement from the Council of Editors of Learned Journals (CELJ) for Grist‘s 10th anniversary issue released in spring 2017.

Grist‘s Issue 10 featured the work of established writers such as Alan Shapiro, Kyle Dargan, and Beth Ann Fennelly as well as writers who have yet to publish their first book such as Lindsey D. Alexander, Tiana Clark, and Clare Paniccia. The Parnassus Award-winning issue was the first in Grist‘s new larger format, featuring a letterpress cover and new issue design by UT MFA in Printmaking alumna Elysia Mann. Issue 10 also included visual art for the first time in the journal’s history in an art folio and in a section devoted to the Tennessee Ekphrasis Project, a collaboration between Tennessee writers and visual artists that was supported by an Arts Build Communities grant from the Tennessee Arts Commission.

“It’s a wonderful feather in the cap for the members of our hard-working, all-volunteer staff,” Hermes says. “Collectively, Grist’s graduate student editors dedicate literally thousands of hours to each issue, fueled by a shared love for contemporary literature. That kind of collaboration acts as a real community-builder within the department. Our readers, too, have been struck by the quality of this publication, which also serves as an important enticement for prospective students who might be interested in the kinds of professional development opportunities the journal offers.”

As the major national organization supporting academic journal publishing, CELJ recognizes scholarly and creative journals across the country through its annual prizes. According to CELJ’s website, the Parnassus Award was established in 2004 to recognize a single issue that “constitutes an unusually high realization of the creative arts journal’s mission in combination with application of the highest standards of learned editorial practice.”

CELJ Vice-President Gordon Hutner spoke to these values in his commendation of Grist at 2018’s MLA Conference.

“The jury found that the journal represents a major accomplishment, with professionally executed, visually compelling design elements to complement the imaginative range and scope of its editorial creativity. Among its most impressive features is a section dedicated to ‘A Tennessee Ekphrasis Project,’ which pairs works of visual art (printed in color) with ekphrastic poems. Notable is the consistently high level of writing to be found in its pages. Grist both highlights the strength of its department’s creative writing program and represents its editorial capacity to reach an even wider audience,” Hutner says.

“The work Richard Hermes and his editorial team were able to do for our 10th anniversary issue was not only a fitting end to the first decade of Grist, but also set a path for the journal’s next decade,” says current editor-in-chief Jeremy Michael Reed. “Being recognized by a national organization such as CELJ highlights Grist‘s continued success after its first ten years and shows the quality of work accomplished by the over forty graduate students from several disciplines at the University of Tennessee who work on its pages every year.”

You can order a copy of Grist‘s award-winning 10th anniversary issue hereGrist‘s 11th annual issue, available February 2018, will feature nationally-recognized writers such as May-lee Chai, Bob Hicok, Dana Levin, and Maggie Smith alongside emerging writers and Grist‘s 2017 ProForma Prize winners. Issue 11 can be pre-ordered here.

 Photo by Rachel GuyFounded in 2007 by graduate students in the Creative Writing program at the University of Tennessee, Grist: A Journal of the Literary Arts is a nationally distributed journal of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, interviews, and craft essays. Published annually every spring, each issue is accompanied by Grist Online, which features some of the best work received during Grist‘s reading period. In addition to general submissions, Grist holds the ProForma Contest every spring, recognizing unpublished creative work that explores the relationship between content and form, whether in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, or a hybrid genre. Throughout the year, Grist publishes interviews, craft essays, and reviews on its blog, The Writing Life. For more information, visit Grist‘s website at

Photos by Rachel Guy.

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