Author Grif Stockley is the recipient of the inaugural Laman Library Writers Fellowship.

The William F. Laman Public Library System announced Tuesday a grant program to provide up to $10,000 to a different Arkansas author each year. The Laman Library Writers Fellowship will be awarded during the first quarter of each year to a previously published author. Applications will be accepted from June through September for the fellowship of the coming year.

An independent group of literary professionals will select the winning author each year, based on creative excellence.

The 2010 fellowship has been awarded to Grif Stockley to assist him as he completes a book on the 1959 fire at the Negro Boys Industrial School in Wrightsville. Stockley will recount the tragedy of 21 black teenagers who burned to death in a small dormitory that was padlocked from the outside.

"This story is certainly one of the most tragic events in Arkansas history and yet we know so little about it," Stockley said. "Unfortunately, much of our racial history is hidden and will never be retrieved, which makes this opportunity so precious." Stockley added that the fellowship will allow him to devote almost all of his time to completing the book.

To qualify for the grant, an applicant must be commissioned by a commercial American publisher to write a full-length work of fiction, poetry or non-fiction. If the applicant is without a contractual commitment, he must have had at least one work published commercially by an American publisher, excluding vanity presses.

Applications can be submitted through Laman Library's new web site, which is scheduled to launch in late May. Recipients may not apply for another fellowship within three years of receiving an award.

The Laman Library Writers Fellowship is supported by nontax dollars used for community enrichment.