Thursday, February 21, 2008

Contest for best obituary writing of 2007 and much more.

The Society of Professional Obituary Writers will present awards for obituary writing in eight categories and a Lifetime Achievement Award in Obituary Writing during the Professional Obituary Writers Workshop at The Oregonian, Portland, Oregon, May 8-11, 2008.

Submitting your best obits published during the 2007 calendar year, paying entry fees and judging will be done online. You and/or your news organization's contest coordinators should appreciate that.

Deadline for entering is April 1, 2008. Five finalists will be selected by a panel of judges – themselves obituary writers. The finalists’ work will be posted on the SPOW Web site beginning April 15 for review by members of SPOW and the general public.

Winners in each category, chosen by SPOW members’ votes, will be announced at the Portland workshop.

Details on the categories and how to enter the contest are posted on the Awards page of the SPOW Web site.

Anyone can nominate a veteran obituary writer for the Lifetime Achievement Award, and there's no fee or membership involved. Letters of nominations should explain how this individual has shown dedication to the craft of obit writing over time.

Want to play a part in choosing the winners? Join SPOW.

Membership is open to journalists who make a living from or get paid to write/edit obits for newspapers, magazines, news blogs, other news organizations, newsletters, etc.

(Educators, scholars and others with a serious interest in obituary writing should be able to become associate members after SPOW members convene for the first time at the Portland workshop.)

No membership fee is required while this organization is in its infancy.

The only immediate privileges of SPOW membership are the right to vote on the five finalists in each contest category, to approve selection of Lifetime Achievement and to elect officers, approve bylaws and plan SPOW's future.

To join, simply send the following information with your name in the subject line to Name, news organization, job title, mailing address at work, home mailing address (optional), e-mail address(es), phone number(s), and a brief bio with emphasis on your obituary-related work.

Want to know more about the Professional Obituary Writers Workshop in May in Portland, where the first SPOW meeting will be held?

Details on speakers and plans that Oregonian obituary writers Amy Starke and Joan Harvey have planned for workshoppers are posted on SPOW's Development page.

Also on the SPOW Web site are the Workshop Registration Form - registration for the entire event is only $50 - and accommodations information.

Any questions? Write to

Friday, February 15, 2008

Congratulations are in order

Michael Largo's book "The Portable Obituary: How the Famous, Rich and Powerful Really Died" has just been nominated for a 2007 Bram Stoker Award in the Superior Achievement in Nonfiction category. The Stokers, which are named in honor of Bram Stoker, author of "Dracula," are given annually by the Horror Writers Association.

Largo is also author the author of "Final Exits: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of How We Die."

Nice work!

Obituary writing awards, SPOW membership and Portland workshop

Specifics about the Society of Professional Obituary Writers' awards for obituary writing of last year, SPOW membership and the Professional Obituary Writers Workshop project of Amy Starke and Joan Harvey, including registration form, are now available at the SPOW Web site:

The site is still under construction. Disregard the gibberish in the sidebar and the meaningless stock images of a tree and a woman whom we don't know. Send suggestions on appropriate images and other elements that you feel should grace the site to

Friday, February 08, 2008

Derrick Henry, RIP

Robert Derrick Henry, an obituary writer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, died on Jan. 29 of complications from an inoperable tumor. He was 58.

Henry was hired in 1985 to be the newspaper's classical music critic. He later covered the religion and nonprofit beats before moving to the obit desk.

"He worked in constant pursuit of words that could match the fascinating lives of those about whom he wrote. ... Through his obituaries, readers got a tour of forgotten Atlanta," Hank Klibanoff said.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Registration fees for the two obit confabs

Here's information about registration for the Professional Obituary Writers Workshop that two Oregonian obit writers, Amy Starke and Joan Harvey, are organizing and the 10th Great Obituary Writers' International Conference hosted by Carolyn M. Gilbert.

Professional Obituary Writers Workshop
at The Oregonian, Portland, Oregon
May 8-11, 2008

Registration fee: $50
The registration form will be posted soon on the Society of Professional Obituary Writers Web site - - which is still under construction or can be obtained by directly contacting Amy or Joan at The Oregonian.

10th Great Obituary Writers' International Conference
at The Plaza Hotel, Las Vegas, New Mexico
June 12-14, 2008

Registration fee: Requires an explanation.

According to the following excerpt from - the 10th Great Web site - conference registration is on a sliding scale according to the conferee's ability to pay.

Please select any amount from $100.00 to $200.00 for your registration. If there are two registrations from one family, feel free to pay $100.00 each. If you had a good year, you may wish to pay up to $200.00 for your registration!

The next excerpt indicates that conference-goers should add $50 to that for membership in the International Association of Obituarists that Gilbert founded.

The annual membership fee remains the same: $50.00 for all. If you are not a current member, please add this fee of $50.00 to your registration.

The registration form for the 10th Great is posted at

Read previous blog items for explanations for the two obit confabs and the two obit writers groups. Please go to "Comments" at the end of this item or write to to ask questions.