Back in the '50s, a group of Denver journalists and authors would gather at local watering holes to trade wet witticisms about writing. The Evil Companions, they called themselves -- and not without reason. A decade ago, this admirable tradition was resurrected in the form of the Evil Companions Literary Award, an honor presented to poets and writers living in, writing about, or having ties to the West. Sponsored by the Colorado Review, Colorado State University's literary journal, the Tattered Cover Book Store and the Oxford Hotel, the annual ceremony -- held at the Oxford, a classic in its own writes -- has honored writers ranging from Tom McGuane to Annie Proulx, the 2001 winner. This year's deserving recipient, Kent Haruf, is the author of the lyrical Plainsong.