Illumine 2012 Honorees
Nonfiction: Douglas Brinkley
Presented by: Tom Staley, Director of the Ransom Center
Fiction: Sarah Bird
Presented by: Michael Adams, Director of Dobie Paisano Fellowship
Songwriting: Joe Ely
Presented by: Turk Pipkin, writer, performer, filmmaker and advocate
Children's Literature: Liz Garton Scanlon
Presented by: Lymon Grant, Dean of Arts and Humanities, Austin Community College
Luminary Award for literary patron: Darryl Tocker
Presented by: Pat Smith, Executive Director of the Texas Library Association
Emcee: Jake Silverstein, Editor of Texas Monthly
About the Honorees
Nonfiction honoree Douglas Brinkley has been hailed by the Chicago Tribune as “America’s new past master,” and the late Stephen E. Ambrose called him “the best of the new generation of American historians.” He is the author of a number of award-winning and best-selling books, including The Great Deluge, Tour of Duty, The Boys of Pointe du Hoc, Parish Priest, and, he edited the number one New York Times best-seller The Reagan Diaries, the personal diaries kept by Ronald Reagan during his time in the White House. His 2009 The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America, a New York Times best-seller, won a National Outdoor Book Award in the History-Biography category. The National Outdoor Book Award is the outdoor world's largest and most prestigious book award program. Award-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin said, “Historians will treasure Douglas Brinkley’s superbly edited version of President Reagan’s diaries for generations to come. In one remarkable entry after another, the president’s compelling voice, strength of character and sunny personality comes vividly to life."
Brinkley’s latest book Cronkite, an unprecedented biography of the beloved newsman and American icon, instantly hit the New York Times best sellers list in May 2012. Six of his books have been selected as New York Times Notable Books of the Year and he was recognized with a Robert F. Kennedy Book Award in 2007 for The Great Deluge. Brinkley is a professor of history at Rice University and a contributing editor at Vanity Fair.
Fiction honoree Sarah Bird is an American novelist, screenwriter, and journalist. She has received national critical acclaim for her published works, including Virgin of the Rodeo (B&N Discover Great New Writers & Southwestern Critics Book of the Year), The Yokota Officers Club, (Amazon Fiction Editors Best Books of the Year, Book Sense Pick, TIL Award for Best Novel, ALA Booklist Editors Best Books of the Year), The Flamenco Academy,(People Magazine's Page Turner award), How Perfect is That, (Elle Magazine Reader’s Prize), The Mommy Club, (TIL Award for Best Novel), and The Boyfriend School, (NY Public Library's Books to Remember). Her most recent novel, The Gap Year published in 2011, was named one of Library Journal’s Best Novels of the Year.
Sarah was the holder of the Dobie-Paisano Fellowship in Summer 2010; she was inducted into the Texas Literary Hall of Fame this past October; she earned a National Magazine award for her Texas Monthly columns; and she is a four-time winner of the Chronicle's Best Austin Author award.
Bird has written screenplays for Warner Bros, CBS, TNT, the National Geographic Channel, Hallmark Features, and many independent producers and syndicated programs. She has contributed articles to The New York Times, Salon, O Magazine, and is a regular contributor to Texas Monthly. She and husband George Jones make their empty nest in Austin with not-frequent-enough visits from son Gabriel.
Songwriting honoree Joe Ely has had a genre-crossing career, performing with Bruce Springsteen, Uncle Tupelo, Los Super Seven, The Chieftains and James McMurtry in addition to his early work with The Clash and more recent acoustic tours with Lyle Lovett, John Hiatt, and Guy Clark. If there is one word that best describes Joe Ely as an artist, it is integrity. A legendary, genre-bending Texas artist, Joe Ely, was born in Amarillo, Texas, but would later migrate to Austin. In 1972, Ely formed the country rock band The Flantlanders in Lubbock, Texas, along with Butch Hancock and the 2011 Illumine Awards Songwriter honoree, Jimmie Dale Gilmore. Dubbed “the founding fathers of Americana” the Flatlanders celebrate their 40th anniversary this year with the release of The Odessa Tapes, an album comprised of recently discovered recordings from 1972.
Ely’s music has not only transformed and expanded the audience for Texas music around the world, but it has also made Joe Ely fans out of a diverse array of other major musical artist. Throughout his career, Ely has issued a steady stream of albums, most on the MICA label, and a live album roughly every ten years. Ely has always followed his own beat in the world, and has never allowed his music to bow to the conforming pressures of mainstream acceptance.
Children’s Literature honoree Liz Garton Scanlon is the author of numerous celebrated picture books, including Noodle & Lou, Think Big, A Sock is a Pocket for Your Toes, and the Caldecott Honor recipient All the World. Liz is an adjunct professor of creative writing at Austin Community College, and her poetry has been published widely in literary journals. She lives with her family in Austin, Texas.
Liz has been writing for children ever since her daughters inspired her to. Although she doesn’t do the artwork that is often seen in all her books, Liz mentions that she wildly admires the artists and is very fortunate that she has had the chance to work with some of the finest illustrators in the field. Liz mentions how important the community is to her inspiration. Community is central to her work and wellness. In Austin, Liz is also a part of a long-standing women’s group made up of artist-mother types that serve as a solid platform infer everything she does.
Literary Patron honoree Darryl Tocker is the third Executive Director of the Tocker Foundation—which partners with rural community libraries to meet the particular needs of the community. After years of supporting a wide range of community-based causes, the foundation discovered a need in small, rural Texas libraries serving populations of 12,000 or less. In 1992 the foundation board decided to focus grant distributions in this way. During his term with the Tocker Foundation, Tocker has advanced the organization's commitment to public library advocacy. Due to the many initiatives and projects the Tocker Foundation was one of the initial organizations on the American Library Association's National Honor Roll and a recipient of the Texas Library Association's Centennial Champion medallion.
In addition to his role with the Foundation, Tocker serves as President of the Friends of Libraries and Archives of Texas, the support organization to the Texas State Library. He is a member of the Executive Board of the Texas Book Festival and the Executive Board of Raising Austin, Inc. He also serves on the Advisory Board of the University of Texas, School of Information. Tocker's affiliations include his long time memberships to the American Library Association, Texas Library Association and Conference of Southwest Foundations. Before joining the Tocker Foundation in 1990, Darryl Tocker was a financial analyst with the Zale Corporation from 1981 to 1995 in both the Dallas and New York offices.