Butcher receives excellence award


Local author and essayist Amy Butcher was recently honored with the 2024 Individual Excellence Award for Nonfiction Writing from the Ohio Arts Council.

The award was announced last week and recognizes “outstanding accomplishments by artists in a variety of disciplines.” Butcher was recognized for her new book, a profile of an inmate serving a life sentence at Marysville Reformatory for Women. The book is currently untitled, and Butcher said the book examines “concepts of autonomy, legitimacy, believability, and value as they shape and affect the lives of female-presenting Americans.”

Butcher said the portion of the book that was evaluated as part of the award consideration is “a story of human rights as they relate to women and girls, specifically.”

“While the book is still very much in its early stages, it’s my hope the manuscript will work as an independent and intersectional examination of the long-term effects and consequences of a culture that, in the words of feminist writer Rebecca Solnit, continually posits that women are not reliable witnesses to their own world,” Butcher said.

The award comes with a $5,000 grant to “give artists the resources to experiment and explore their art forms, develop skills and advance their careers, and receive affirmation and acknowledgment for outstanding work” according to the council’s website.

The council reports that recommendations for the award are made through an anonymous, open panel review process focused on” exceptional merit of past artistic work,” and nearly 500 applications were filed this year. Butcher was one of 75 award recipients.

“On behalf of the Ohio Arts Council, I want to congratulate this year’s Individual Excellence Award recipients,” said OAC Executive Director Donna S. Collins. “Their work continues to exemplify Ohio’s wealth of exceptional artistic talent and demonstrates that artists can thrive in our great state.”

Butcher said she appreciates the award and the feedback from the judges.

“Much of this book originates from my own experience with sexual assault and intimate partner violence, which informs much of the work I do,” Butcher said. “I first reached out to this individual nine years ago, during my first year at Ohio Wesleyan, but I didn’t know how to tell her story in a way I felt she deserved – empathetic, compassionate, humanizing. It’s been so important to me to build a relationship with her rooted in intimacy and trust. This award is significant not only in its recognition of my contributions as an Ohio writer, but in the judges’ belief in the value and merit of this project.”

More information about Butcher can be found at https://www.amyebutcher.com/.

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