Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Warts and Awards

8th Grade Creativity Award, 1989
Theresa Pollak Award, 2014

Warts and Awards: One is an embarrassing blemish and the other makes you feel  really special. But which is which?

Winning an award is wonderful and horrible, amazing and awkward. It makes you consider all of the awards you have not gotten that your friends, neighbors, colleagues and other people who are better/prettier/richer/smarter than you have. It makes you wonder if you actually deserve the award you did receive or if you're really a skilled fraud that has managed to fool everyone in an elaborate game of make believe. My son illustrated it this way: "You didn't get an award mom, you got a WART!" And actually I have had a whole lot more of those. Not only did I recently have to ask the Kroger pharmacist where the wart remover medication was after not so subtley scouring the entire store without success, a few days later I accidentally applied it as chapstick. 

So, while I am truly honored to have received a Pollak I'm probably going to have to wring my hands over it a little while longer, vacillating between feeling like the best person who ever lived and the worst. In the meantime, I'll try to remember what the hell I was up to in 8th Grade that landed me the magnificent trophy I recently unearthed in the shed, pictured above. I sure was creative at being a hormonal, angst ridden brand new teenager who announced to her mother she was ready to get her own apartment but couldn't apply eyeliner to the correct part of her face. Personally, I think I should win an award for winning two awards exactly 25 years apart.

Monday night I received the beautiful drawing with my name on it (above) after delivering the acceptance speech (below) that got me surprisingly choked up. Because as I prepared for my two minutes of fame the amount of love, support, belief, encouragement, collaboration and connection I've experienced and received in the last 2.5 decades is definitely something to celebrate. And I won't be going to the pharmacy to try to get it removed, further embarrassing myself in the process, anytime soon. 

Thank you so much to the nominators, judges and Richmond Magazine for the honor of this award. I must admit, my first thought after receiving the initial email from Harry letting me know I’d been selected to receive a Pollak, was Holy Expletive! Look at me! I am the Explective Expletive! Followed closely by “Geeez, too bad for Richmond Magazine...they must be pretty hard up to scrape out the bottom of the barrel like this” but that train of thought shows a lot more about how my brain works than the nature of the Pollak Awards.  Because the truth is some truly amazing and beautiful things have been happening in the Richmond writing scene for people of all ages, not because of me but alongside me. The Writing Room, Richmond Young Writers and the adult creative nonfiction workshops and retreats wouldn’t begin to be possible on my steam or sweat or imagination alone. There’s an embarrassment of people I’d like to thank individually and collectively for helping me create and sustain a small but rich pocket of the writing world here in my hometown. My beloved Richmond Young Writers partner Bird Cox (with a shout out to her new baby Ferris who threw up on my shoulder just this morning), my husband Stan who can do everything I can’t do and loves me anyway, my son Henry who redefines creativity for me every day, my rock steady bohemian parents and far flung family, my above average looking friends with high IQs, the writing, reading and bookstore community in Richmond at large and Ward Tefft and Chop Suey books in particular and last but not least Richmond Magazine for never failing to select inspired content- even- or especially when I’m a part of it. Thank you all.

And thank you to Harry Kollatz, Jr. for the beautiful article in Richmond Magazine. I can now cross "being compared to a Tom Robbins' heroine" off my bucket list.

Photo Credit: Sarah Walor, Richmond Magazine, October 2014


  1. Beautiful! We love you all the more for thinking you don't deserve an award you so obviously do!

  2. Congratulations and so deserved-- my beautiful and brilliant, dear friend. You inspire me so! D