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Retired Clarkson Professor Wins Second Award For Writing On American West

Clarkson University Liberal Arts Professor Emeritus Harry W. Paige of Potsdam will be presented his second prestigious Spur Award by the Western Writers of America at their annual convention in June.

The Spur Awards, presented annually since 1953, honors the best fictional and non-fictional writings on the American West. Previous winners include Larry McMurtry for Lonesome Dove and Michael Blake for Dances With Wolves.

Paige is being recognized in the Best Western Short Non-Fiction category for his article, “Death Song,” which recalls the story of an old woman dying of cancer in a hospital on the Lakota (Sioux) reservation in South Dakota and his fascination with the song she chanted in her native language – a Death Song, or a song of departure.

Paige received his first Spur Award in 1989 and has been a finalist on two other occasions.

“I’m pleased,” said Paige when asked about winning the award for a second time. “Not too many writers win it more than once. It’s a big award. The unique angle is that I’m an easterner who has spent time out west, in New Mexico, South Dakota and Texas. So, I’m an easterner who is in love with the west.”

“I’m really proud of Harry,” said Jerry Gravander, dean of Clarkson’s Liberal Studies department. “He’s remained active in writing since his retirement. He’s in his office every single day, writing and communicating with publishers. It makes for an interesting presence. Harry has depth and experience and is a really creative writer.”

Paige is the author of eight books, one of which won a Best Book award as well as the Chicago Studies Award. Over half of his books have been on the American West and the Lakota Indians of South Dakota. His work has appeared in both scholarly and popular magazines and many of his stories and articles have been anthologized.

His latest story, “The Indian Summer of Nancy Redwing,” currently appears in Tales of the American West: The Best of Spur Award-Winning Authors (2000, New American Library) and is on sale at bookstores.

Paige taught American Literature and creative writing at Clarkson and retired in 1988.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or]

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