Cleveland State Poetry Center director receives an award for her book

By Beth Casteel

Hilary Plum, who is an associate director at the Cleveland State University Poetry Center, has been honored by the Great Lakes Colleges Association (GLCA) for her non-fiction work “Watchfires.”

The GLCA, now in their 49th year,  has been giving promising new writers — who have published their first volume of work in a particular genre — a chance to be honored in three categories: fiction, poetry and creative non-fiction.

Once winning the award, the selected writers are then given the opportunity to share their work by visiting GLCA member colleges. Here, they are able to give readings of their stories and run talks on the writing process with members of the faculty and students at the colleges.

The winners of this year’s New Writers Awards were announced this past week on the association’s website with Plum receiving the new writers award in the category of creative nonfiction.

Plum’s book “Watchfires” was first published in 2016 via Rescue Press. She writes personal accounts of her life — public and private. It covers a wide range of topics like The Boston Marathon Bombing, eating disorders, war, cancer and chronic pain.

In the GLCA award announcement, the judges were allowed to write their thoughts of each of the winning pieces. For Plum’s story, the judges focused on how thought provoking her book was.

“Urgent and probing, generous and judicious, Hilary Plume’s Watchfires asks the big questions: what does it mean to be at war, to be sick, to be in love, to be family?” noted GLCA in the award announcement. “This book possesses a beautiful lyricism, a deeply ruminative poeticism and a steadily building sense of conviction that war and love, disease and health are perhaps more close than might make us comfortable.”

While Plum has been awarded a new writers award, she is no stranger to writing by any means. In addition to her latest work, Plum has also written two novels, “They Dragged Them Through the Streets” and “Strawberry Fields.” The latter novel winning the Fence Modern Prize in Prose award this year.

Plum has also worked as an editor of international literature, history and politics. She now teaches creative writing here at Cleveland State.

In addition to co-directing Clockroot Books, she also serves as the associate director at the Poetry Center where she organizes the Poetry Center’s annual Lighthouse reading series.  
For more information about Plum’s books, you can visit her website: