Please join the Department of English in congratulating incoming Visiting Assistant Professor Vauhini Vara and MFA alumna Katherine Indermaur on winning 2023 Colorado Book Awards! Presented by Colorado Humanities and Center for the Book, the awards ceremony was held at the Penrose House Garden Pavilion in Colorado Springs this past Saturday, June 10.

Vauhini VaraThe Immortal King Rao by Vauhini Vara

Vara’s dystopian novel, The Immortal King Rao, won for General Fiction. At its heart, this speculative story centers on the bond between a daughter and her aging father, while navigating big themes like climate change, technology, and capitalism. Though Vara couldn’t attend the awards ceremony in-person, her mother was there Saturday to accept the honor on her behalf. Called “a monumental achievement” by Justin Taylor for The New York Times, the book has accrued countless honors—most recently, it was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction. Congrats, Vauhini!

I|I by Katherine Indermaur

Indermaur, who graduated from CSU’s Creative Writing MFA program in 2019, won for Poetry for her first full-length book I|I. Published by Seneca Review Books, I|I explores the mirror’s many dimensions—philosophical, spiritual, scientific, mythological, historical—alongside the author’s own experiences.

The win for Indermaur was marked by a whirlwind of emotions: apprehension, total surprise, and joy.

“I started feeling nervous as the poetry announcement approached, but then soothed my nerves by telling myself, ‘You’re not going to win, so there’s nothing to be nervous about!'” Indermaur said.

Katherine Indermaur accepting the 2023 Colorado Book Award in Poetry on June 10, 2023.Little did she know what was next to come. “I was so surprised when they announced my name that I held my book backwards in the official photo on stage,” she said. “I got to give a short reading from the book to the audience, which was fun, too.”

As an emerging poet and writer, Indermaur said the award is a major source of validation.

“It is absolutely a huge motivation to continue dedicating my time and efforts toward writing. The other poetry finalists had published multiple books previously, and many of the finalists of the Colorado Book Awards are very successful writers with long careers,” she said.

“It means so much to me that my book is in company with theirs. I am deeply grateful to Colorado Humanities for all they do to support working artists in our state!”

Looking for more about I|I? During the fall 2022 semester, we sat down with Indermaur for a Q&A about the book, her experience as a first-time author, and more. Find it here, and big congrats again to Katherine!

Additionally, we’d like to congratulate Associate Professor Harrison Candelaria Fletcher, who was named a finalist in the Creative Nonfiction category for his captivating essay collection, Finding Querencia: Essays from In-Between. Read an excerpt published by The Colorado Sun here. Finally, CSU Professor of Animal Science Temple Grandin also won for General Nonfiction for her book, Visual Thinking. Congrats to all!

For more, check out the full list of this year’s Colorado Book Award winners at