Sweet Briar professor Erica Trabold wins Nebraska Book Award for essay collection

Erica Trabold reading
Erica Trabold reads at Sweet Briar College on Sept. 18. Photo by Theresa Carriveau ’21

Erica Trabold’s essay collection “Five Plots” is the winner of the 2019 Nebraska Book Award in the Nonfiction Essay category. Trabold is a visiting assistant professor of creative writing at Sweet Briar College and a native of Nebraska, where her essays take place.

“I couldn’t believe it when the email came through,” Trabold said. “It feels wonderful to be recognized by the community that inspires my writing and readers in my home state.”

Trabold read from “Five Plots” during the College’s Writers Series event on Sept. 18, one day before the award became official. In his introduction, Professor John Gregory Brown, who directs the creative writing program at Sweet Briar, described Trabold’s writing as elegantly embodying the very definition of the lyric essay:

Five Plots book cover
Erica Trabold, “Five Plots”

“Her essays are shapely and musical; they’re both immediate and complex,” he said. “They take the bombardment of experience, the sensory impressions of a Midwest childhood and a restless imagination and an artistic sensibility, and craft from those disparate forces these wonderful meditations. Erica’s essays do indeed shock and thrill and tether our attention. They make music of the world.”

“Five Plots” (Seneca Review Books, 2018) was selected by John D’Agata as the winner of the inaugural Deborah Tall Lyric Essay Book Prize. Trabold’s essays appear in Brevity, The Rumpus, Passages North, The Collagist, South Dakota Review, Seneca Review, Essay Daily and elsewhere.

An awards ceremony will take place from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9, at History Nebraska’s Nebraska History Museum in downtown Lincoln. Winners of the 2019 Nebraska Book Awards will be honored and the celebration will include readings by some of the winning authors, designers and illustrators of books with a Nebraska connection published in 2018. An awards reception honoring the winning authors, book signings and an introduction of the 2020 One Book One Nebraska book choice will conclude the festivities. The event is free and open to the public.