blackbirdonline journalSpring 2021  Vol. 20  No. 1

Reading Loop Introduction

spacer John Englehardt
   To All Whom These Presents Shall Come
   from Bloomland

Cabell First Novelist Award 2020
   A Reading by John Englehardt video icon
   A Discussion Featuring John Englehardt video icon

Michelle Goshen
   Review | Bloomland, by John Englehardt

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John Englehardt received the 2020 VCU Cabell First Novelist Award for Bloomland (Dzanc Books, 2019). In addition to the Cabell Award, Englehardt’s acclaimed novel won the 2018 Dzanc Prize for Fiction and was named a Best Book of 2019 by Kirkus Reviews.

The award honors an outstanding debut novel published in the previous calendar year. In celebration of the winner, an event took place online on October 15th, 2020. Englehardt read the final chapter of his prize-winning book and participated in a discussion and Q&A following the reading. Both portions of the event, captured by VCU Libraries, are featured as captioned videos in the First Novelist Award Reading Loop, alongside the excerpt from the novel and a review by Michelle Goshen.

The VCU Cabell First Novelist Award, which is presented under the auspices of Virginia Commonwealth University’s MFA program in creative writing, was created by Tom De Haven and Laura Browder to celebrate VCU’s inaugural year-long novel workshop, the first of its kind in the nation. Initial funding for the award was provided by VCU alumnus and novelist David Baldacci. The award was named for James Branch Cabell, a prominent Richmond writer who died in 1958 and whose papers are collected in the VCU library that bears his name.

Presented on behalf of VCU’s MFA program in creative writing, sponsors include the James Branch Cabell Library Associates, VCU Libraries, the VCU Department of English, Barnes & Noble @ VCU, and the VCU College of Humanities and Sciences. Special thanks to Gregory Kimbrell for facilitating the event and for his efforts in preparing the videos for publication.  end