2021 Summerlee Book Prize Winners announced

The Center for History and Culture of Southeast Texas and the Upper Gulf Coast at Lamar University is pleased to announce the winners of its 2021 Summerlee Book Prize.

With the goal of promoting scholarship and the creation of knowledge about our region, this award recognizes the best books written in or about Southeast Texas and the Gulf South. This year, the renewed generosity of the Summerlee Foundation allowed the Center for History and Culture to select winners in two separate categories: nonfiction and creative. Each comes with a $1,000 cash prize.

The 2021 Summerlee Book Prize winners are:      

Creative
Christopher Lee Manes, “Naming the Leper: Poems” (LSU Press, 2020).

Nonfiction
Barrie Scardino Bradley, “Improbable Metropolis: Houston’s Architectural and Urban History” (University of Texas Press, 2020).

“‘Naming the Leper’ uses poetry to transport readers to the sad reality of life for those at a leper colony inNaming the Leper Carville, Louisiana, a hundred years ago. Manes takes inspiration from old family letters and historical documents and weaves these together to create a collection that is both educational and evocative.”-Gretchen Johnson, author of Single in Southeast Texas (winner of the 2017 Summerlee Book Prize)  

“Manes’ poetry and prose combined with actual documentary creates an unforgettable reading experience steeped in history and the distinctive flavor of our region. He respectfully and lovingly illuminates the tragic treatment of those with Hansen's disease as well as their active inner lives.” -Jennifer Ravey, editor, Review of Texas Books, and Writing Center director at Lamar University

“Manes expertly weaves an affecting sense of place and atmosphere into these verses. This work offers a respectful but also intimate portrait of familial bonds and resilience shaped in part by the oppressive stigma of illness and quarantine.” -Sara Hillin, associate professor of rhetoric and composition, Lamar University

“When one thinks of Texas history, or even Houston history, rarely does architecture come to mind. Yet, Barrie Scardino Bradley carefully weaves the history of the city’s built environment into the story of Houston’s cultural coming of age. Both scholarly and beautifully illustrated, ‘Improbable Metropolis’ chronicles the remarkable story of Houston’s architectural evolution since 1836.” -Tony Chauveaux, executive director, McFaddin-Ward House Museum

Improbable Metropolis“Bradley provides a refreshing and pathbreaking view of Houston’s architectural and cultural evolution in Improbable Metropolis. Beginning with the city’s founding on a slight bluff at the Buffalo Bayou and White Oak Bayou confluence in 1836, Bradley provides a historical overview of development patterns across the city’s landscape to document changes in Houstonian architectural taste and style. She concludes her history with Hurricane Harvey’s devastation and damage to historical structures in the Petro Metro, leaving the reader hopeful about the city’s creative engineering ability to avoid future catastrophes.” -Miguel Chavez, assistant professor of history, Lamar University

“‘Improbable Metropolis’ provides a wealth of historic information in a beautiful and accessible format.  As someone new to Southeast Texas and the Houston area, this impressive work brought me much closer to understanding the unique character of the region as reflected in its built environment and architectural traditions.” -Stefan Krause, visiting assistant professor of anthropology, Lamar University