Ohio Arts Council honors OWU professor


The first reviews are in – with members of the Ohio Arts Council declaring Amy Butcher’s forthcoming book to be “well researched,” “very well-written,” and a “positive antidote to trauma of violence against women.”

Based on her cumulative body of writing, especially “Mothertrucker,” the Ohio Arts Council (OAC) is honoring Butcher with a 2020 Individual Excellence Award for nonfiction. Butcher’s new book, set to be published in 2022, tells the story of Joy Wiebe, now deceased, a female trucker who drove a tanker on Alaska’s Dalton Highway, considered by some to be “the deadliest, loneliest, and most isolated road in America.”

“I’m deeply grateful to the Ohio Arts Council for their time and consideration of my work,” said Butcher, an award-winning essayist and assistant professor of English at Ohio Wesleyan University.

“This award is significant most of all in its indication that the ideas and themes surrounding ‘Mothertrucker’ are of value,” Butcher said of her book-length essay. “The manuscript grapples with issues of contemporary feminism, our country’s ongoing epidemic of domestic violence, and what it means to truly be strong as a woman in America. While these subjects can be difficult to sit with, I feel very fortunate that ‘Mothertrucker’ and its corresponding subjects have received advance and important attention in this way.”

According to the OAC, “Individual Excellence Awards are peer recognition of a creative artist’s body of work that exemplifies their specific discipline and advances the larger artistic community. These awards support artists’ growth and development and recognize their work in Ohio and beyond.” All recipients receive $5,000.

In announcing the 2020 award recipients, OAC Executive Director Donna S. Collins said their work represents “exemplary artistic achievements.”

“Through their art,” Collins said, “the individuals selected for these grants have expressed visionary ideas, spoken in a diversity of voices, and explored thought-provoking topics and themes from a variety of viewpoints. We congratulate the Individual Excellence Award recipients and thank them for enriching Ohio’s creative community.”

Learn more about the Individual Excellence Awards and see a full list of 2020 grant recipients at https://oac.ohio.gov. The award information is posted on the OAC’s ArtsOhio Blog.

Butcher joined the Ohio Wesleyan faculty in 2014 and holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Iowa. Her first book is “Visiting Hours: A Memoir of Friendship and Murder,” and her essays have appeared in outlets including Harper’s, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Denver Post, The American Scholar, and Lit Hub.

Though ‘Mothertrucker’ has yet to be published, Butcher’s book already has been optioned as a feature film, with Butcher selecting Primetime Emmy-winning director Jill Soloway to direct the film, and Academy and Golden Globe-winning actress Julianne Moore to portray Wiebe.

Learn more about Butcher, Ohio Wesleyan’s Department of English, and its creative writing concentration at www.owu.edu/english.


Special to The Gazette

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