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Mourners gather August 4, 2019 in the Oregon District

Dear Readers,

We were in Alaska when we heard the horrific news of the shooting in the Oregon District of Dayton. Being so far away made the news even more difficult to comprehend—distance in time and place intensified the feeling of helplessness.

We had run into a group of other Daytonians aboard the ship, and when we saw each other Sunday morning after the attack, we realized we now shared another common bond—disbelief and sadness.

As we were trying to wrap our heads around this awful news, I started receiving emails with reactions from our DLPP authors, many of whom identify themselves as part of the DLPP family. Marlon James, David Wood, and Gilbert King sent immediate messages checking-in to make sure their Dayton friends were OK. Other reactions came in from throughout the country and internationally, Canada, England and France.

I responded and sent the photo of the people gathered at the rally in the Oregon District Sunday evening. I wanted to reassure our friends that “Dayton is Strong” in its commitment to peace.

Below, I share with you some of the heartfelt messages received. As Andrew Krivak remarks below, “Words can bring peace and shape peace, reminding us that it's possible, reminding us that we've seen and heard and lived by examples of it often in our lives. The authors' words helped me; I hope they help you.

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Dear Sharon,

Just wanted to write from Oxford and say how much I was thinking of you and DLPP friends in light of the tragic news from Dayton. I hope no one you know was injured. Sending solidarity to all of you and your wonderful city. This kind of violence MUST be stopped.

Warmly, Karima

Karima Bennoune, Oxford, England, 2014 Nonfiction Winner, Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here


Just waking up to this awful news. I hope you all are okay.

David Wood, 2017 Nonfiction Winner, What Have We Done


Just a note to let you know John Henry and I are thinking of you and sending our prayers and hope for healing for the people of Dayton in the days ahead. I hope your dear ones are safe and that we may look forward to living in safer and more peaceful times soon.

Warmest wishes,

Patricia Engel, 2017 Fiction Winner, The Veins of the Ocean


I’m so sorry for what has happened in your and our City of Peace. All love to you today and always.

Dona McAdams, Brad Kessler’s (2007 Fiction Winner, Birds in Fall) wife, New Hampshire


I just wanted to write you and tell you how I am thinking of you, and of precious Dayton amidst the terrible news of the shooting. I hope you are doing okay and that the city will recover. Sending you prayers and wishes.

With much love,

Michelle Kuo, Paris, 2018 Nonfiction Runner-up, Reading with Patrick


Such sad news this morning coming from Dayton, especially knowing what peace means to you and every Daytonian who calls the city home.

I just don't know what to do or say, and yet wanted to write to send my love and prayers, knowing too how in this climate those words can sound more and more hollow each day. But words can bring peace and shape peace, reminding us that it's possible, reminding us that we've seen and heard and lived by examples of it often in our lives. That's what you all reminded me of in Dayton seven years ago, and every time I've been back since.

So, a gentle reminder from me now, while I'm sitting quietly with my grief and hope for a place and people I have come to love, because you all welcomed me and my words and said, "Be at home here." If we keep working, writing, loving, and hoping, there will be peace. There will be. It's the promise I first heard spoken out loud in Dayton.

With my deepest sympathies,

Andrew Krivak, 2012 Fiction Winner, The Sojourn


I hope all of my Dayton friends are alive.

Marlon James, 2010 Fiction Winner, The Book of Night Women


So much madness, but it made me think of you and Dayton. I hope everyone you know is okay.

The photo is incredible, so proud of your city.

Much love,

Gilbert King, 2013 Nonfiction Runner-up, Devil in the Grove


I wanted to write and let you know that the people of Dayton are on our minds and in our hearts. What a senseless tragedy. Claire and I send our love to you and to everyone connected with the DLPP.

In peace,

Jo Roberts, Canada, 2014 Nonfiction Runner-up, Contested Lands, Contested Memory


I was processing yesterday's massacre in El Paso when I learned about the horrific catastrophe in Dayton last night. I know Dayton, like Bloomington, is in many ways a small community where everyone knows each other. I don't have anything to offer other than hope. Hope that you and your loved ones are safe, cared for, and appreciated.

Please accept my deepest condolences and sympathies.

That's an incredible picture. It's so important to remember that in the wake of a monstrous act, a great community like yours can come together.

Brando Skyhorse, Nonfiction Judge 2019


I just turned on my computer and heard about the shooting last night in Dayton. I am so very sorry.

This should not be happening anywhere—not in Dayton, not in Baghdad, not in Beirut, not in El Paso or Parkland or Nairobi or New Zealand or, or, or. But this one seems especially heartbreaking, I guess because thanks to you all at DLPP, I think of Dayton as a place where people gather to celebrate and honor peace.

I hope you're both, okay, or as okay as you can be under the circumstances. In Beirut and Baghdad, people always reach out after bombings and shootings and other "events." It's one of the small, good things we can learn from war zones. Don't feel like you have to answer. I just wanted to let you know that I'm thinking of you all and hoping for peace.

Beautiful and powerful! Thank you for sending this.

Annia Ciezadlo, 2012 Nonfiction Runner-up, Day of Honey

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