2023Veterans Writing Award Winner

Nov. 9, 2023, 4 p.m.

Black woman headshot with red wrap around her head
Photo of Robin Caudell taken by Carly Newton

Syracuse University Press is thrilled to announce Black Heel Strings: A Choptank Memoir by Robin Caudell is the 2023 Veterans Writing Award winner. Robin Caudell is a U.S. Air Force veteran and a founder of the Plattsburgh Air Force Base Museum and the North Star Underground Railroad Museum at Ausable Chasm, NY. An award-winning journalist and writer, she is a staff writer and visual journalist at the Press-Republican in Plattsburgh, NY. A Native of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, Caudell is a graduate of the University of Maryland at College Park and Goddard College. Her poetry has been anthologized in national and international publications, most recently in Peregrine Journal: Black Poets Speak, 2021. Caudell is an alumna of Cave Canem, Gotham Writers Workshop, Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference.

Veterans Writing Award judge Anuradha Bhagwati praised Caudell’s work, noting "The author’s gifts recall Toni Morrison. Sentence after sentence reads like poetry. The earth and sea come alive through her words, as though the author's language gave birth to the natural world itself. Simply stunning."

Syracuse University Press, in cooperation with the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF), established the Veterans Writing Award in 2019. The mission of the award is to recognize the contributions of veterans to the literary arts, shine a light on the multivalent veteran experience, and provide a platform for unrecognized military writers. This contest is open to U.S. veterans and active-duty personnel in any branch of the U.S. military and their immediate family members. This includes spouses, domestic partners, parents, siblings, and children. We encourage women veteran writers, veterans of color, Native American veterans, LGBTQ veterans, and those who identify as having a disability to submit. Although work submitted for the contest need not be about direct military experience, we seek original voices and fresh perspectives that will expand and challenge readers’ understanding of the lives of veterans and their families

For more information, contact Lisa Kuerbis at lkuerbis@syr.edu or visit


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