The Georgia Writers Association assumed responsibility for the Georgia Author of the Year Awards (GAYA) shortly after its founding in 1994. The awards were first given in 1964 by the Dixie Council of Authors and Journalists. Commercially and independently published authors from Georgia are eligible for nomination. Awards in a variety of categories are announced and presented in June at the GAYA ceremony.
Prominent winners of the GAYA include David Bottoms, for his poetry collection Vagrant Grace (1999); Turner Cassity, for his poetry collection Devils and Islands (2007); Jimmy Carter, for his essay collections The Virtues of Aging (1998) and Our Endangered Values: America’s Moral Crisis (2005); Pearl Cleage, for her novel I Wish I Had a Red Dress (2001; Judith Ortiz Cofer, for her essay collection Woman in Front of the Sun (2000); Terry Kay, for his novels Valley of Light (2003) and The Book of Marie (2007); John Lewis, for his memoir Walking with the Wind(1998); Frank Manley, for his novel The Cockfighter (1998) and short-story collection Among Prisoners (2000); and Philip Lee Williams for his essay collection In the Morning: Reflections from First Light (2006). Poet Bettie Sellers won a lifetime achievement award from the organization in 2004.