Portland Press Herald reporter Bob Keyes was acknowledged Thursday night for his commitment to covering the state’s literary arts with a distinguished achievement award from the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance.

In past years, the award has recognized a best-selling author, a quietly successful poet and a dedicated bookseller.

“I’ve often said that I have the best job in the state of Maine,” Keyes said, “because it allows me to meet with and hang out with creative people, and I believe that to my core.”

Maine Literary Awards were presented in 17 categories, including fiction, crime fiction, nonfiction, memoir and children’s books.

Christian Barter said he struggled long after his book of poetry “In Someone Else’s House” came out, worrying that it shouldn’t have been published at all.

“Tonight, I feel better about it,” he said after receiving the award in poetry.

This year’s awards were the largest in the decade-long history of the event. Nearly 125 books were entered across the genres. More than 70 manuscripts were submitted into the Short Works Competition. Nearly 70 Maine students submitted work in the Youth Competition. About 20 judges selected the winners, which were announced at Glickman Library at the University of Southern Maine.

Executive director Joshua Bodwell has tried to elevate the event in recent years, giving it an awards-show quality.

Winners take home bragging rights and the chance for extra promotion for their winning books. The alliance will announce the winners in a mailing to independent bookstores across Maine that also will include stickers that booksellers can affix to winning books.

The winners also included Roxana Robinson for “Sparta” in fiction; Al Lamanda for “Sunrise” in crime fiction; Lincoln Paine for “The Sea and Civilization” in nonfiction; Peter Korn for “Why We Make Things and Why It Matters” in memoir; Lynn Plourde for “You’re Wearing THAT to School?!” in children’s; Maria Padian for “Out of Nowhere” in young adult; Reeser Manley and Marjorie Peronto for “New England Gardener’s Year” with the John N. Cole Award; Elizabeth W. Garber and Michael Weymouth for “Maine (Island Time)” for excellence in publishing; Mark D. Diehl for “Seventeen: Book One” in speculative fiction; and Martha White for “E.B. White on Dogs” in anthology.

The winners in short works were Deborah H. Gould for fiction, Mira Ptacin for nonfiction and Christopher Robley for poetry. The youth competition winners were Grace Whited for fiction, Toby Choyt for nonfiction and Tessa Holbrook for poetry. Elysia P. Roorbach was recognized for being a youth finalist three years in a row.

A full set of the nominated books will be donated to the Cherryfield Free Public Library.