Silver Pen Award Recipients

  • 2019 - Caleb S. Cage

    Caleb S. Cage is a native of Reno, Nevada and a veteran of the United States Army. A graduate of the United States Military Academy, West Point, he served as a field artillery officer from 2002 to 2007, including time as a platoon leader in Baqubah, Iraq in 2004, and as an information operation battle captain in Baghdad in 2006. He is the author of Desert Mementos: Stories of Iraq and NevadaWar Narratives: Shaping Beliefs and Blurring Truths in the Middle East, and the co-author of The Gods of Diyala: Transfer of Command in Iraq (2008) with Gregory M. Tomlin. His essays and fiction have appeared in War, Literature, and the Arts, Red Rock Review, High Country News, Small Wars Journal, and various other publications and anthologies.

  • 2018 - Jared Stanley, Lindsay Wilson

    Jared Stanley is the author of three full-length collections of poetry, EARS (Nightboat Books, 2017), The Weeds (Salt Publishing 2012) and Book Made of Forest (Salt Publishing, 2009), which won the Crashaw Prize for Poetry. His poetry and prose have appeared in many journals including Harvard ReviewTriple Canopy, The Academy of American Poets' ?Poem-a-day" and in the anthology Counter-Desecration: A Glossary for the Anthropocene (Wesleyan, 2018). His awards include a Silver Pen award from the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame and fellowships from the Nevada Arts Council and the Center for Art + Environment. Born in Arizona, Stanley grew up in northern California and now lives in northern Nevada.


    Lindsay Wilson arrived in Reno in 2006 after accepting a tenure track professor of English position at Truckee Meadows Community College (TMCC). In his work at TMCC Wilson has served as the editor of TMCC's literary journal, The Meadow, since 2006. In 2016 he won the Board of Regent Nevada System of Higher Education Regents' Creative Activities Award. He has been named a finalist for the Phillip Levine Prize, he has published five chapbooks, and his first collection, No Elegies, won the Quercus Review Press Spring Book Award. His poetry has appeared in numerous journals including The Bellevue Literary Review, Pank, The Portland Review, Verse Daily, and The Missouri Review Online.

  • 2017 - Michael Branch

    Michael Branch is an award-winning writer and humorist, a father, desert rat and environmentalist who lives with his wife and two young daughters in the western Great Basin Desert, on the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada Range.

  • 2016 - Tod Goldberg

    Tod Goldberg is the New York Times, national, & international bestselling author of over a dozen books, including the novels Gangster Nation, The House of Secrets, Gangsterland, Living Dead Girl, Fake Liar Cheat, and the popular Burn Notice series. Both Gangsterland and Gangster Nation have been finalists for the International Thriller of the Year Award given by VN Magazine.

  • 2015 - Mark Maynard, Laura McBride

    Mark Maynard teaches at Truckee Meadows Community College. His work has appeared in The Reno News and Review and the essay collection Tahoe Blues.  He lives in Reno, Nevada with his wife Molly and their five children. His 2012 collection of short stories Grind was selected as the 2016-17 Nevada Reads Book by the Nevada State Library. In 2015, Mark was awarded the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame Silver Pen.


    Laura McBride lives in Las Vegas and teaches composition at the College of Southern Nevada. She is the author of the novels We Are Called to Rise and In the Midnight Room.

  • 2014 - Alicia M. Barber

    Alicia Barber is an award-winning writer, historian, and founder of the historical consulting firm Stories in Place. Specializing in the U.S. West, American Cities, and Public History, she collaborates frequently with government agencies, museums, artists, architects, and community groups to create dynamic public history projects about Nevada and its people. For a decade, she taught at the University of Nevada, Reno, where she directed the University of Nevada Oral History Program (UNOHP) from 2009-2013 and steered the creation of the UNOHP’s online database, which launched in May 2013.

  • 2013 - Christopher Coake, Tupelo Hassman

    Christopher Coake is the author of a collection of short stories, We're in Trouble, for which he was awarded the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize in 2006, and of the novel You Came Back. He currently teaches creative writing at the University of Nevada, Reno, and directs their MFA program.


    Tupelo Hassman's debut novel, girlchild, is the recipient of the American Library Association's ALEX Award. Her short fiction, Breast Milk, won Quiet Lightning's inaugural chapbook competition. She is the recipient of the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame Silver Pen Award, the Sherwood Anderson Fiction Award, and is the first American to win London's Literary Death March.

  • 2012 - Elizabeth Raymond, Claire Vaye Watkins

    Elizabeth Raymond was a research associate at the Nevada Historical Society, Reno, and an assistant professor and then associate professor of History at the University of Nevada, Reno. Her publications include George Wingfield: Owner and Operator of NevadaStopping Time: A Retrophotographic Survey of Lake Tahoe, and Comstock Women.


    Claire Vaye Watkins won The Story Prize for her 2012 book of short stories, Battleborn. In 2014, she was the recipient of the Guggenheim Award. She published her debut novel, Gold Flame Citrus, in 2015. She currently teaches in the Helen Zell Writers' program at the University of Michigan.

  • 2011 - David Philip Mullins, Matthew O'Brien

    David Philip Mullins is the author of Greetings from Below: Stories (Sarabande Books/Salt Publishing).  He is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and his fiction has appeared in The Yale Review, The Massachusetts Review, New England Review, Cimarron Review, Ecotone, Folio, Fiction, and the anthology Road to Nowhere and Other New Stories from the Southwest.  He has won the Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction, the International Walter Scott Prize for Short Stories, and the Silver Pen Award from the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame, and has received fellowships from Yaddo, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and the Nebraska Arts Council.  He lives in Omaha, Nebraska, where he is an associate professor in the M.F.A. program in creative writing at Creighton University.


    Matthew O'Brien is an author, journalist and teacher best known for the nonfiction book Beneath the Neon about homeless people living in the Las Vegas Valley. He was formerly a staff writer, news editor and managing editor of the alternative weekly Las Vegas CityLife. In July of 2017 he relocated to San Salvador in Central America to teach literature at an English-language preperatory school.

  • 2010 - Terri Farley, John L. Smith

    Terri Farley is an author of books about the contemporary and historic west, including Wild at Heart: Mustangs and the Young People Fighting to Save Them. The book is a Junior Library Guild selection, winner of the Sterling North Heritage award for Excellence in Children's Literature and has been honored by Western Writers of America, National Science Teachers Association and American Association for the Advancement of Science. It also received Young Adult Notable Books recognition from the Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Award in and was included on the Children's Book Council's Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12 list.


    John L. Smith was born in Henderson, Nevada was a longtime columnist for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. His stories have appeared in a variety of publications, including TimeReader's DigestThe Daily BeastReutersThe Nevada IndependentRuralite, and Desert Companion. He has published or has contributed to several books and short story collections.

  • 2009 - Charles Bock, Robert Leonard Reid

    Charles Bock was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada, which served as a backdrop for his debut novel Beautiful Children. It was selected by The New York Times as a Notable Book of the Year for 2008, and won the 2009 Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.


    Robert Leonard Reid is the author of five books, four works for the theater, and more than 100 essays, articles, and short stories. Louise Erdrich characterized Reid's essays as "wonderfully fluent, even visionary." Ron Hansen called them "stirring, witty, gorgeously written." Reid's latest book, Because It Is So Beautiful: Unraveling the Mystique of the American West, was a finalist for the 2018 PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay. Bob has received two Artist Fellowships in Literary Arts from the Nevada Arts Council. A prolific songwriter, he has written and staged three satirical musical revues and the 24-song Bristlecone Mass. For more than a decade he has served as piano accompanist for songstress June Joplin in the Great American Songbook duo, Me and Bobby McGee. Bob attended Harvard College, where he earned a degree in mathematics. He lives in Carson City with his wife, Carol Dimmick Reid. They have a son, Jacob.

  • 2008 - Don Waters

    Don Waters is the author of the memoir These Boys and Their Fathers, a novel, Sunland, and two short story collections, The Saints of Rattlesnake Mountain and Desert Gothic, which won the Iowa Short Fiction Award. His fiction has been widely published and anthologized in the Pushcart Prize, Best of the West, and New Stories from the Southwest. A frequent contributor to the San Francisco Chronicle, he’s written for the New York Times Book ReviewOutsideThe BelieverTin House, and Slate, among other publications. Waters is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and teaches at Lewis & Clark College.

  • 2007 - Richard Moreno, Willy Vlautin

    Rich Moreno was a news reporter and magazine publisher, and is the author of several books on Nevada and Reno history. His works include A Short History of RenoNevada Curiosities, and Roadside History of Nevada.


    Willy Vlautin was born in Reno and became a guitar player and song writer while in his teens. He founded the alternative country band Richmond Fontaine in 1994, which has been well received in Europe and has produced studio albums, live recordings, and extended play recordings. He formed his second band, The Delines, in 2014 with vocalist Amy Boone, continuing in the role of song writer and guitarist. His spare writing style conveys bleakness in both his songs and novels as he portrays the realities of often invisible Americans. “The only thing you can do … is get up every morning and try to do a little bit better than you did the day before …”

  • 2006 - Ellen Hopkins, Susan Palwick

    Susan Palwick is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Nevada, Reno, where she teaches writing and literature. Her first novel, Flying in Place (1992), won the Crawford Award for Best First Fantasy Novel, presented annually by the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts.


    Ellen Hopkins published her first haiku, at age nine, in the Palm Springs Desert Sun, igniting the writing spark. Born and educated in California, she entered, and won, creative writing contests throughout high school. She began her career as a freelance writer, then worked as a reporter and editor for the Tahoe Truckee Reader from 1992-96 and later as editor and contributor for Northern Nevada Family from 2000-02. She has also been a contributor to the Reno Gazette-Journal. She was an instructor for the Institute of Children's Literature from 2000-03. During that time, she began focusing on children’s nonfiction, publishing 20 titles before switching to fiction. Concurrently, as a member of Carson City’s Ash Canyon Poets, she stoked her fire for poetry, growing her craft through exceptional critique. Her involvement with the regional Children's Book Writers and Illustrators group led to a meeting with a representative of Simon & Schuster, which published her first novel-in-verse, Crank, in 2004. Both one-word titles and free form verse fiction would become her trademarks. In 2006, she received the Friends of the University Libraries' Silver Pen Award and her young adult novel, Burned, was nominated for a National Book Award. In 2014, her YA novel Smoke was a runner-up finalist for the Teen Choice Book of the Year Award. In January 2014, TheatreWorks of Northern Nevada produced Flirting with the Monster, a stage adaptation of her award-winning and controversial first novel, Crank. To date, nine of her young adult novels-in-verse have been New York Times bestsellers. Her 12th novel is being published in November 2015. Characterized as a young adult phenomenon, her "breathtakingly raw" YA novels delve into tough subjects, such as addiction, religion, sexual abuse, and suicide. Her decision to pull no punches when dealing with real world problems has occasionally led to book-banning controversies in some school districts. Characteristically, her response was to write a poem for Banned Books Week about people seeking to force their values on others through censorship. Her books for adult readers touch on hot button issues like military deployment and its impact on both those deployed and those left behind. Hopkins uses social media to interact with her readers, crediting them for some of her writing ideas. In 2012, she and her younger daughter, Kelly Foutz, co-founded Ventana Sierra, a non-profit organization that helps at-risk youth with housing, medical care, and other necessary resources, including educational support and career guidance. She has lived near Carson City since 1990 with her extended family, two dogs, one cat, and two ponds (not pounds!) of koi.

  • 2005 - Donald Revell, David Winkler

    Donald Revell was born in the borough of the Bronx in New York City in 1954. He emerged from it a poet. He obtained his BA at Harpur College and his PhD from the State University of New York at Buffalo. He has served as editor-in-chief for the Denver Quarterly and as poetry editor for the Colorado Review. He is a former fellow of the Ingram Merrill and Guggenheim Foundations and has received poetry fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. He is the 2004 recipient of the Academy of American Poets' Lenore Marshall Prize and three PEN USA Awards in poetry and translation. Before moving to Nevada, he taught at the University of Utah. He has been a columnist for The American Poetry Review, which has published many of his poems. He is married to Claudia Keelan, who received the Silver Pen Award in 2001. Revell became a recipient of the Silver Pen Award in 2005. He is Chair and Professor of the English Department at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He also served as Director of the Creative Writing Program and Director of Graduate Studies in English at the university. He is an unabashed Miltonist.


    David Winkler is the author of several books, including The Return of Calico Bright, Scotty and the Gypsy Bandit, and Potomok.

  • 2004 - Aliki Barnstone, Clay Straus Jenkinson

    Aliki Barnstone is a poet, translator, critic, editor, and visual artist. She was born in New Haven, Connecticut in 1956, and grew up in Bloomington, Indiana. She has taught at Beloit College, Marquette University, Bucknell University, the University of South Dakota, the Prague Summer Seminar, and was writer-in-residence at Villanova University. From 1999-2007, she was Professor in the Department of English’s International MFA Program at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She is currently Professor of English in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Missouri, Colombia, and was appointed the poet laureate of Missouri in 2016.


    Clay Straus Jenkinson is the director of The Dakota Institute, where he co-hosts public radio's The Thomas Jefferson Hour. Jenkinson first achieved fame for his portrayal (first-person historical interpretation) of Thomas Jefferson. On April 11, 1994, he was the first public humanities scholar to present a program at a White House-sponsored event when he presented Thomas Jefferson for a gathering hosted by President and Mrs. Clinton. He is the author of several books about American History, including The Character of Meriwether Lewis: Explorer in the Wilderness, and A Vast and Open Plain: The Writings of the Lewis and Clark Expedition in North Dakota, 1804-1806.

  • 2003 - Sally Denton

    Sally Denton was born in Elko, Nevada, and started writing when she was eight. She attended the University of Nevada, Reno, from 1970-72 before obtaining her B.A. from the University of Colorado, Boulder, in 1974. She was married to her first husband, Robert Samuel, from 1984-1995. She married Roger Morris, a former member of the National Security Council, in 1998. Her career as an investigative reporter has encompassed writing for the Rio Grande Sun in New Mexico; Jack Anderson's nationally syndicated column, "Washington Merry-Go-Round"; and the CBS affiliate WKYT-TV in Lexington, Kentucky. Her articles have been published in American Heritage, the Columbia Journalism ReviewThe New York TimesPenthouse, and The Washington Post. Her investigative work in Kentucky led to her first book, The Bluegrass Conspiracy: An Inside Story of Power, Greed, Drugs, and Murder. Her 2001 book, The Money and the Power: The Making of Las Vegas and Its Hold on America, 1947-2000, co-authored with her husband, was described as "... one of the most important nonfiction books published in the United States ..." by a Los Angeles Times reviewer. In 2002, the Arts & Entertainment Network developed a documentary film, Las Vegas: The Money and the Power, based upon the book, which was broadcast on the History Channel. Switching her focus to earlier western history, Faith and Betrayal: A Pioneer Woman's Passage in the American West is the story of her immigrant great-great grandmother, Jean Rio Griffith, and her disillusionment with the polygamist Mormons in Utah. Denton received a Lannan Literary grant in 2000, Western Heritage Awards in 2002 and 2004, and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2006. She was selected for the Nevada Writers' Hall of Fame Silver Pen Award in 2003. She currently lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where she teaches documentary film courses at the College of Santa Fe. An environmentalist, she enjoys hiking, horseback riding and skiing amid a disciplined writing schedule and raising three sons.

  • 2002 - Carolyn Dufurrena, Gregory Martin

    Carolyn Dufurrena is the author of a recent book of poems called Quiet, Except for the Wind and is a regular contributor to RANGE Magazine. She was lead writer for C.J Hadley’s Cowboys and Critters: Symbiosis in the American West (2017) and has contributed to several other books, including Brushstrokes and Balladeers: Painters and Poets of the American West, which received a 2014 Wrangler Award.


    Gregory Martin is the author of the memoir Stories for Boys, the Seattle Reads One City, One Book selection for 2013. His first book, Mountain City (FSG), received a Washington State Book Award, was named a New York Times Notable Book.

  • 2001 - Claudia Keelan, Steven Nightingale

    Claudia Keelan is the author of seven collections of poetry, including We Step into the Sea: New and Selected PoemsO, Heart, and The Devotion Field, which was a finalist for the PEN Center USA Award in Poetry. She is also the editor of Interim, a journal specializing in poetry, translation, and book reviews, as well as the editor for the Test Site Poetry Series published by the University of Nevada Press.


    Steven Nightingale writes novels, sonnets, and long essays. He divides his time between Palo Alto, California, his beloved home state of Nevada, and the beautiful Albayzin, a barrio in Granada, Spain.

  • 2000 - nila northSun, Emma Sepulveda

    nila northSun is a Native American poet and tribal historian. She was born in Scurz, Nevada to a Shoshone mother and a Chippewa father, and is a graduate of the University of Montana-Missoula. northSun has published several works of poetry, including Love at Gunpoint and A snake in her mouth: poems 1974–96, and wrote the non-fiction tribal history of the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone, After the Drying Up of the Water.


    Emma Sepulveda was born in Mendoza, Argentina, and moved with her family to Chile when she was seven. While in college, she began writing poetry and was an activist in support of Salvador Allende. In 1974, following Augusto Pinochet's 1973 military coup, she left Chile before graduating and came to the United States. Teaching herself English, she completed her BA and MA degrees at the University of Nevada, Reno. In 1987, she earned her Ph.D. in Latin American and Peninsular literature at the University of California, Davis and joined the faculty of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at the University of Nevada, Reno. She was the first Latina to become a full professor at UNR.

  • 1999 - Linda Hussa, Gailmarie Pahmeier

    Linda Hussa was born in 1941 in Nevada and grew up at the base of the Diablo Meridian in Northern California. Hussa's nonfiction includes Sharing Fencelines (2002) which elaborates on issues facing rural communities and their desert landscape; Lige Langston: Sweet Iron (1999) and Diary of a Cowcamp Cook (1990). She is on the Board of Directors of the Western Folklife Center.


    Gailmarie Pahmeier obtained her BA in creative writing from Southern Illinois University and her MFA in poetry from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville in 1983. She was Visiting Poet in the Poetry-in-the-Schools Program for the State of Arkansas from 1979-1983 and served as Poetry Editor for Nimrod from 1983-1984. After moving to Reno in 1984, she worked part time at Truckee Meadows Community College and as the Arts in Education Coordinator for Sierra Arts Foundation. In 1985, she became a lecturer in the English Department at the University of Nevada, Reno, where she continues to teach creative writing, poetry, women’s literature, contemporary literature, and literature of work and class. While at UNR, she has received the Alan Bible Teaching Excellence Award (1994) and the University Distinguished Teacher Award (1995). She has been nominated twice for the Regents Teaching Award. She has been Visiting Writer and Poet in Residence in Alaska, New York, and Wisconsin, as well as in California, Nevada and Utah.

  • 1998 - Shaun Griffin

    Shaun Griffin’s soulful poetry and engagement with Nevada communities make him one of the state’s most well-loved literary figures. He is the author of This is What the Desert Surrenders, Bathing in the River of Ashes and Woodsmoke, Wind and the Peregrine, among others. Recurring themes in his poetry are "... family, landscape and work for justice in the larger world." Griffin’s editing also adds to his literary legacy, specifically his editing of Torn By Light, poems by Joanne de Longchamps. Likewise, his translations of Emma Sepulveda’s poems have allowed her work to be enjoyed by an increasingly wider audience. Both de Longchamps and Sepulveda are members of the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame. From Griffin: “I believe poetry has a central role in our lives – if we slow down and find the one poem that excites us. From there on, it is like returning to a fountain for fresh water. We can be a culture of poetry readers…if we listen for the voice lying dormant on the shelves.” In the early 1980s, he began offering creative writing workshops for prisoners at the Northern Nevada Correctional Center. He is the editor of Razor Wire, an annual poetry journal, that grew from that effort. Griffin received the Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts in 1995 and was awarded the Silver Pen as an “author of promise” from the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame in 1998. He is the co-founder and executive director of Community Chest, Inc., a rural and social justice agency serving northwestern Nevada since 1991, and is also the director of the Homeless Youth Education Office. In 2004 he served on the Nevada Arts Council and is a member of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs. In 2008 he served as judge for the Neltje Blanchan Memorial Award and the Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Award. He lives in Virginia City, Nevada, mentors a writing class at the Nevada State Prison, periodically teaches other creative writing classes and poetry workshops, and is also a watercolorist.

  • 1997 - William Fox, Gary Short

    William Lyman Fox, an art critic, artist, author, cultural geographer, editor and poet, was born in San Diego, California, on November 26, 1949, and moved to Reno when he was ten. His first chapbook of poetry, Iron Wind, was published when he was a senior at Claremont McKenna College, where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in English in 1971. He has used the pseudonym Ian Tarnman for some of his writing. After working as the overseas editor for the New Zealand literary magazine Edge from 1969-1972, he took over the West Coast Poetry Review in Reno in 1972 from founder William Ransom and worked as its publisher and editor until 1993. His poems have been published in many literary magazines, including Counter/Measures, The Dragonfly, Ghost Dance, Out of SightPebble, Poetry Australia, the Tennessee Poetry Journal, and Three Rivers Poetry Journal. In 1979, he was the Associate Director of the Reno Sierra Nevada Museum of Art (now the Nevada Museum of Art) and served as the Executive Director of the Nevada Council on the Arts (now the Nevada Arts Council) from 1984-1993. He ran the poetry program at the Squaw Valley Community of Creative Arts and has been a consultant to the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies and the National Endowment on the Arts. He has been a judge for the SouthWest Literary Center's Discovery Competition in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and has also coordinated the Western States Book Award. An editor of several books, he has served as an editorial consultant to the University of Nevada Press. His art has been exhibited in seven countries. In 2009, he became the director of the Nevada Museum of Art's new Center for Art + Environment.


    Gary Short is from Virginia City, Nevada. He completed his undergraduate work at Fresno State University where Pulitzer Prize winner Philip Levine ran the creative writing program. Later, he earned a master's degree in English at Sacramento State, where he studied with the poet Dennis Schmitz. Short received a master of fine arts (MFA) in creative writing at Arizona State University, under the tutelage of noted poet Norman Dubie. He is the author of three poetry collections: Theory of Twilight, (Ahsahta Press, 1994); Flying Over Sonny Liston (University of Nevada Press, 1996), which won the Western States Book Award; and 10 Moons and 13 Horses (University of Nevada Press, 1996).

  • 1996 - Teresa Jordan, Douglas Unger

    Teresa Jordan's works include the memoir Riding the White Horse Home and two illustrated journals, Field Notes from Yosemite: Apprentice to Place and Field Notes from the Grand Canyon: Raging River, Quiet Mind. The recipient of several awards including a literary fellowship from the National Endowment of the Arts and the Western Heritage Award from the Cowboy Hall of Fame, Teresa lives in a historic pecan orchard in southern Utah where she and Hal raise a small band of Navajo Churro sheep.


    Douglas Arthur Unger was born in Moscow, Idaho, on June 27, 1952, and spent some summers working on his father's ranches in Colorado and South Dakota. When he was 16, he was awarded an American Field Service scholarship for a year of study in Buenos Aires, Argentina, during 1969-70. In 1971, he studied German language and culture at the Goethe Institute in Blaubeuren, Germany. While a student at the University of Chicago, he was an antiwar activist and became the managing editor of the Chicago Review. In 1973, he received the University of Chicago's Olga and Paul Menn Foundation Award for writing along with his B.A. degree. He received a Teaching-Writing Fellowship at the University of Iowa for 1975-76. He was Assistant Editor at The Iowa Review and obtained his MFA in Fiction at the University of Iowa's Iowa Writer's Workshop in 1977. Then he and his wife, Amy Burk Unger, moved to Washington state, where he worked as a commercial fisherman until they moved to his wife's family's homestead farm. From 1981-1983, he was the Arts journalist and theater critic for The Bellingham Herald (Washington State) and Friday Magazine for Gannett Newspapers. Also during the 1980s, he worked as a photographer and a stringer journalist for UPI and wrote for the PBS program the MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour. He also completed coursework toward a master's degree in Theater at Western Washington University before joining the English Department faculty at Syracuse University in 1983. He directed its Creative Writing Program in 1984-85. He received the Society of Midland Authors Award in 1984 for his first novel, Leaving the Land, which was a finalist for the 1985 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. He also received a Special Citation, P.E.N. Ernest Hemingway Award for Leaving the Land in 1985. That same year, he received a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellowship to support his writing. In 1989, a Fulbright Comparative Literature Fellowship enabled him to teach at universities in Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay. He is an occasional book reviewer for the New York Times and other publications. In 1991, he became a member of the faculty of the English Department at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. In 1996, he became a full member in the Writers Guild of America-West, received the (Washington State) Governor's Writer's Award for Leaving the Land, and became one of the first writers to be selected for the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame Silver Pen Award. Since 2001, he has been the Director of its international MFA program in creative writing, which he co-founded with Richard Wiley. He is currently a member of UNLV's Cultural Studies Committee and its Latin American Studies Committee. He has served on the editorial boards of several university presses. In 2003, he was a judge for New Zealand's Schaeffer Literature Prize, and was a 2004 judge for New Zealand's Prize in Modern Letters award. The State of Nevada, Board of Regents, selected him for the Creative Activity Award & Medal in 2005. Unger is on the Advisory Board of the Cities of Refuge - North America for dissident writers.