Poetry Award Endowed

The Burdine Johnson Foundation has agreed to endow the TIL award for Best Book of Poetry. Bill Johnson, the foundation executive director, is doing so in honor of his mother, Burdine, who was herself a poet. Much thanks to Bill and council member Wes Ferguson, who helped negotiate the endowment.

New Bilingual Poetry Award

Deep appreciation goes to Robert L. Girón for endowing the TIL’s new Girón/Valdez Bilingual Poetry Award for a published book of at least forty-five pages in English with a Spanish translation OR for a book in Spanish with an English translation, to be given biennially: $1,000 for the prize, with a $25,000 donation to permanently endow the award for the TIL.


Congratulations to the winners of the TIL’s 2022 literary awards, which were presented in Corpus Christi at TIL’s annual banquet on April 29, 2023: Jennifer Sperry Steinorth, Sam W. Haynes, Bret Anthony Johnston, Gus Bova, Kirk W. Johnson, Rebecca Balcárcel, Xelena González, Guadalupe García McCall, Rudy Ruiz, Ramona Reeves, Jasminne Mendez, and Laura Villarreal.

At that same ceremony, Author Beverly Lowry received the Texas Institute of Letters’ prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award. This is the highest honor given by the TIL, which was established in 1936 to recognize distinctive literary achievement. Read full press release here.

Twenty-six New Members Elected to TIL

Members of the Texas Institute of Letters have overwhelmingly approved twenty-six new writers to the TIL, a distinguished honor society established in 1936 to celebrate Texas literature and recognize distinctive literary achievement.

The TIL’s elected membership consists of the state’s most recognized and serious writers of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, journalism, and scholarship. The membership includes winners of the MacArthur Fellowship, Man Booker Prize, Pulitzer Prizes in drama, fiction, and nonfiction, as well as prizes awarded by PEN, and dozens of other regional and national award and grant-giving institutions.

The 2023 inductees are Sheila Black, Jenny Browne, Christopher Carmona, Hayan Charara, Rubén Degollado, Heath Dollar, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Owen Egerton, Brian Floca, Fernando Flores, Héctor Galán, Liz Garton Scanlon, Kari Anne Holt, Cynthia Levinson, Caleb McDaniel, Marcia Argueta Mickelson, Michael Mooney, Robert Moore, Michael Parker, Ashley Hope Pérez, Roger Reeves, Terry Shames, Helen Thompson, Christian Wallace, Suzan Zeder, and Joaquín Zihuatanejo.



Congratulations to the winners of the TIL’s 2021 Literary Awards, which were presented at the TIL Awards Ceremony and Presentation in El Paso, Texas on April 23, 2022: Heath Dollar, Babette Fraser Hale, Lise Olsen, Rodney Gómez, César L. de León, Nicholas Keefauver Roland, David Bowles, Raúl the Third, Varian Johnson, Divya Srinivasan, Dagoberto Gilb, and Skip Hollandsworth.

At that same ceremony, Celeste Bedford Walker received the TIL’s 2022 Lon Tinkle Award for Lifetime Achievement. The author of more than forty plays that have received national awards and productions, Celeste has won the National Black Theatre Festival’s August Wilson Playwriting Award, the NAACP Theatre Awards for Best Play and Best Playwright, New York’s AUDELCO Award, and BroadwayWorld’s (Houston) Regional Award for Best Play. 

The New York Times has praised her plays as “forceful, well-crafted,” “vigorous social satire,” and “unquestionably good theatre.”

Congratulations also to our 2022 inductees into the Texas Institute of Letters: Frederick Luis Aldama, Shelley Armitage, Carol Flake Chapman, Catherine Clinton, Will Evans, Lupe Ruiz-Flores, Varian Johnson, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Christina Soontornvat, Francisco Stork, Melissa Studdard, Don Tate, Edward Vidaurre, Amanda Eyre Ward, and Jennifer Ziegler.



The Texas Institute of Letters is a 501(c)(3) non-profit Honor Society founded in 1936 to celebrate Texas literature and to recognize distinctive literary achievement. The TIL’s elected membership consists of the state’s most respected writers of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, journalism, and scholarship. Induction into the TIL is based on literary accomplishments. Application for membership is not accepted. The rules governing the selection of members and officers are contained in the TIL By-Laws. The TIL annually elects new members, gives awards to recognize outstanding literary works, and supports the Dobie Paisano Fellowship Program for writers.

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