Westword staff writer Alan Prendergast's “How Renick Stevenson Survived the Wild Beat Scene and Helped Transform Denver," our November 10, 2016, cover story, just won first place for Arts and Entertainment reporting in the Best of the West contest. “Great descriptive writing and a complete bio that only comes with great reporting,” the judge wrote. “You can tell the reporter spent a lot of time with the subject."
Yes, he did. In the piece, Prendergast traces Stevenson's story from his days teaching at San Jose State in the ’60s, to his time as a sheriff's deputy in Aspen in the early ’80s, to his work as an artist in Denver. Stevenson was the Forrest Gump of the Beat movement, according to one of his eight ex-wives. "He seems to have had an uncanny knack for being in the right place at the right time to encounter a wide range of the gifted, the celebrated and the deluded," Prendergast reports.
That's the kind of writing that won over the judges. “As a reader, I appreciate the information, the quirky storytelling and the quick wit," says one.
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The Best of the West contest received more than 1,000 entries from fourteen states; see the list of winners here.
This isn't Prendergast's only recent win. Last month, he was named the winner in four Society of Professional Journalists Colorado Chapter contest categories. Prendergast took first place in News Feature for "Torch Song," his account of how a citizens' revolt snuffed out the Winter Olympics in Colorado; first in Legal: Enterprise Reporting for "House of Lies," the story of Lorenzo Montoya, a fourteen-year-old convicted of a murder he didn't commit; first in Health: Enterprise Reporting for "Hep C: Th Deadliest Killer in Colorado's Prisons is a Curable Virus" and first in Business: Enterprise Reporting for "Bloodsucking Freaks," a look at how the Denver Post is faring under its hedge-fund owners.
Read all of the winning stories on westword.com.