UM Alumnus to Receive Lifetime Achievement Award at Montana Book Festival

September 02, 2015

Rick DeMarinisMISSOULA – The University of Montana Creative Writing Program will present author Rick DeMarinis, a 1967 UM alumnus, with its Lifetime Achievement Award during the Montana Book Festival, Sept. 9-12. The award will be presented at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 12, at the Holiday Inn Downtown Garden City Ballroom D, located at 200 S. Pattee St. A panel discussion will follow.

DeMarinis has written ten novels and seven collections of short fiction. His novel “Year of the Zinc Penny” (Norton, 1989) is a New York Times Notable Book. His short stories have appeared in several noteworthy journals, including Esquire, The Atlantic Monthly, Harpers, GQ, The Paris Review and The Iowa Review. After receiving his Master of Arts degree from UM in 1967, he taught creative writing for 25 years as a professor at San Diego State University, Arizona State University and the University of Texas at El Paso. He served as a visiting writer at a number of prestigious writing programs, most recently the Master of Fine Arts program at UM in 2002.

“Rick DeMarinis is one of our most accomplished-yet-unsung literary heroes,” said Annick Smith, who will moderate the panel. “His large body of work is funny and heartbreaking, finely written and totally original. We need to sing his praises.”

DeMarinis will answer questions after the award presentation. He also will join a panel to discuss his work and life and the impact it has had on others. Writers Bill Kittredge, Jon Jackson, Lois Welch and Kevin Canty also will sit on the panel.

 “Rick DeMarinis, since I came to Missoula 45 years ago, has been one of our finest, and best thought-of, writers,” Kittredge said. “The highlight reel from those early years features Dick Hugo, Jim Welch, Jim Crumley and Rick DeMarinis. The others are gone, Rick isn’t. Let’s celebrate one of our last, best friends and talents while he’s still around.”

The DeMarinis panel is one of three festival panels hosted by the Creative Writing Program. UM faculty, students and alumni are involved in all aspects of the festival, including planning, giving readings and moderating events.

Also on Saturday, author Charles D’Ambrosio will read prose as part of the festival. D’Ambrosio, a recipient of a Whiting Writer’s Award and a Lannan Fellowship, among other honors, is the author of two books of fiction and two essay collections. He teaches fiction at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. The reading begins at 7 p.m. in the Turner Hall Dell Brown Room.

More information on the Montana Book Festival is online at To learn more about the Creative Writing Program, call Karin Schalm, program coordinator, at 406-243-5267, email or visit


Contact: Karin Schalm, UM Creative Writing Program coordinator, 406-243-5267,