The Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute has named Summer Brennan, author of The Oyster War: The True Story of a Small Farm, Big Politics, and the Future of Wilderness in America, the winner of its Matthew Power Literary Reporting Award.
New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute has named Summer Brennan, author of The Oyster War: The True Story of a Small Farm, Big Politics, and the Future of Wilderness in America, the winner of its Matthew Power Literary Reporting Award.
The Carter Institute established the award in the fall of 2014 to commemorate the life and work of journalist Matthew Power (1974-2014). Given annually and funded by over 650 separate donations, it provides $12,500 to a young journalist researching an important story that illuminates the human condition.
Brennan, a journalist and author based in Brooklyn, has written for New York Magazine, Scientific American, Pacific Standard, McSweeneys, the Millions, the Rumpus, and others. The Oyster War (Counterpoint Press, 2015), her first book, was a finalist for the Northern California Book Award in nonfiction and the Northern California Independent Booksellers Award in regional interest.
She received a bachelor’s degree from Bennington College and a master’s in Near Eastern Studies from New York University. She will use her Power Award grant to research and write an article about a longstanding art mystery and a forgotten LGBT woman artist.
“Summer is a wonderful writer, and the article she proposed is quite unusual,” said Professor Ted Conover of the Carter Journalism Institute, a friend of Power's who coordinated the judging. “One judge called it her passion project – the story of this unrecognized artist has obsessed her for years.”
The Carter Journalism Institute, which hosts and administers the prize, received 83 applications for this year’s award. Applications for next year's competition may be submitted starting in November.
Power was an established freelance writer who contributed to such publications as GQ, Harper’s Magazine, Men’s Journal, National Geographic Adventure, and the New York Times. He also worked in broadcast journalism. Power was a three-time finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists in international reporting. His work was frequently featured in annual anthologies such as Best American Travel Writing and Best American Spiritual Writing. Power died on March 10, 2014, while accompanying the explorer Levison Wood, who was trying to become the first person to walk the entire length of the Nile River. Wood completed the journey in August 2014.