Writer Mary Hood, on winning the Townsend Prize: ‘Don’t give up’

Georgia writer Mary Hood, who won the Townsend Prize for Fiction last Thursday, said she was unprepared for the honor, not thinking her collection, "A Clear View of the Southern Sky," would win, and was abashed at not having a pithy remark for the audience.

“I have since thought of several,” she wrote in an email, “of the sort the French call l’esprit d’escalier— staircase wit—the things we wish we had said sooner, but usually think of at 3 a.m., after we get home from the party.”

“One of those thoughts I would have hoped to say— quoting Jerzy Kosinsky, in reply to why God created humans: ‘He loves stories.’”

Hood, 69, is the author of three short story collections, two novellas and a novel. She has won the Townsend Prize once before, in 1988, for her short story collection, “And Venus is Blue.” She was inducted into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame in 2014.

Born in Brunswick, Ga., she lived near Woodstock for 30 years, and now lives in Commerce. She has taught at the University of Mississippi, Berry College, Reinhardt College, Oxford College of Emory University and Mercer University.

Hood writes that she would also have encouraged the gathering to persevere. “Since I am getting to be the poster child for never giving up, I would have said what Lewis said to Clark, scribbled in pencil on a scrap of paper and sent by runner forward through the wilds: ‘Proceed on. Proceeding on.’”