Common Good Books' second love poem competition drew more than 1,000 entries--"five shopping bags worth," writes Garrison Keillor (pictured) on his Common Good Books blog.
Keillor and fellow poet-judges Patricia Hampl and Tom Hennen read poems about all kinds of love--love of cheese and tomatoes (that's two separate poems), cats and dogs (definitely separate poems), men and women, hymns and helmets.
They narrowed the field from 1,100 submissions to 25 finalists; most of the poets are from Minnesota but definitely not all of them.
The winner will be announced at a public event at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, April 27, at Weyerhaeuser Chapel at Macalester College.
Here are the finalists--the name of the poem, the author, the hometown:
"Map," Melissa Anderson, Minneapolis
"Love Poem, Late in Life," Chet Corey, Bloomington
"Anniversary," Kathleen Donkin, Lubec MAINE
"Lexiphilia," Julie Excell, Denver CO
"Inheritance," Patricia Kelly Hall, Roseville
"They Will Appear Lovely In Your Eyes," Jennifer Halling, Leavenworth KS
"Shoveling," Ann Harrington, St. Paul
"An Iowa Song," Marsha Hayles, Pittsford NY
"Kinnickinnic," Michael Hill, Austin TX
"Pershing Avenue, 1960," Holly Iglesias, Greenville SC
"The Way You Move," Brett Jenkins, St. Paul
"Custodian," Maureen Cassidy Jenkins, Carnegie PA
"Galaxies," Ken Katzen Columbia MD
"New year love," Kristal Leebrick, St. Paul
"At Louie Arco’s," Kathleen Novak, Minneapolis
"Migration," Nancy-Jean Pement, Thousand Oaks, CA
"String," Jessica Lind Peterson, Brooklyn Park
"Sonnet (for K B)," John Richard, Minneapolis
"One Good Thing," Edwin Romond, Wind Gap PA
"Full Moon, Almost," Susan Solomon, St. Paul
"Parallel Lives," Donna Spector, Warwick NY
"Rondeau for My Grandmother," Marjorie Thomsen, Cambridge MA
"Sonnet for a sister who was once my best friend," Francine Marie Tolf,Minneapolis
"To Carla", Cary Utterberg, Golden Valley
"Every Morning," Mark R. Warren, Phoenix AZ
We're barely three months into the New Year, and Minneapolis writer Kate DiCamillo has already been showered with awards: She won her second Newbery Medal in January, just a couple of weeks after being named National Ambassador for Young People's Literature by the Library of Congress.
Now come two more: Her Newbery winner, "Flora & Ulysses," is one of 10 books to be honored with the Christopher Medal, an award that has gone for 65 years to writers, producers, directors and illustrators who affirm the highest values of the human spirit. It is given by The Christophers, a nonprofit founded in 1945 by Maryknoll Father James Keller, to honor the Judeo-Christian tradition of service to God and humanity.
The full list of Christopher winners is online here. The awards will be presented May 15 in New York.
DiCamillo also will be honored in early May at the Anderson Center for the arts in Red Wing. The A.P. Anderson Award annually is presented to a person for outstanding contributions to literature and the arts in Minnesota. Previous winners include Louise Erdrich, Emilie Buchwald, Jim Brandenburg, Joe Dowling, and Robert Bly and William Duffy.
When you saw that Garrison Keillor and Common Good Books had decided to offer a $1,000 prize for the winner of this year's love poem contest--and $250 for each of the four runners-up--you probably thought, Heck. I'll never win. It'll probably go to someone really good, like Walt Whitman, or somebody.
Fear not! Prithee! 'Zounds! And other vaguely poetic sounding exclamations! Because the bookstore is hoping to level the playing field a little--bring you up, so to speak, to Whitman's level. And so, on its website, it is offering free advice on how to write a love poem. This advice is from the tops in the field. No, not Walt Whitman (someone needs to break the news to you that Mr. Whitman is dead), but from others just as good (and very much alive).
And so we have advice from Jeff Shotts, executive editor of Graywolf Press and editor of some of the finest poets being published today. Also, advice from Washington State's poet laureate Kathleen Flenniken, Tony Hoagland (whose newest book came out in March) (and was edited by Jeff Shotts), and many others. More advice will pop up between now and the competition deadline of April 15, so check back.
The advice is sound and simple and much of it applies to good writing in general: Be direct and intimate, be fully honest, be unexpected. But of course, since they are poets, they said this so much better. Here's a sampling:
"While writing a love poem, you must ignore everyone but the beloved." (Shotts.)
"I learned that love poems could be more than just 'let me count the ways' and contain the dark as well as the light.." (Flenniken.)
"The love poet is advised to twist the data convincingly towards the eccentric as well as the esoteric. Show the beloved emptying a mousetrap. Describe the expression on the mouse’s face." (Hoagland)
So. Ready? Submit your poem (with a signed release, available on the Common Good Books site) by April 15. Winners will be judged by Garrison Keillor, Patricia Hampl and Tom Hennen--fine St Paul poets, all.
And even if you don't win the $1,000, when this is all over you will have written a love poem. And that's no small thing.
The Loft Literary Center has announced this year's winners of the McKnight Artist Fellowships for Writers. Four Minnesota poets/spoken word artists, and one children's author have been chosen out of 135 applicants.
The poetry winners are:
Sierra DeMulder, a two-time National Poetry Slam champion and the author of "The Bones Below" and "New Shoes on a Dead Horse"; she lives in Minneapolis.
Danez Smith, author of "hands on ya knees." His book, "[insert] Boy," will be published this year. His work has appeared in Ploughshares, PANK, The Cortland Review, and elsewhere.
Sun Yung Shin, author of "Rough, and Savage," "Skirt Full of Black," and other books. She edits the online journal "This Spectral Evidence" and lives in Minneapolis.
And Carolyn Williams-Noren of Minneapolis, who is working on her first book.
The winner in children's literature is Molly Beth Griffin, author of "Loon Baby" and "Silhouette of a Sparrow."
Griffin received her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Hamline University and now teaches at the Loft.
Honorable mention went to Rita Moe, Kristin Naca and Tracy Youngblood in poetry, and Michael Hall, David LaRochelle and Janet Lawson in children's literature.
Judges for the competition were poet Nikky Finney, whose fourth book, "Head Off & Split," won the 2011 National Book Award, and Jordan Brown, an editor who has worked with Anne Ursu, Chris Rylander, Steve Brezenoff, and many others.
This is the 32nd year for the McKnight fellowships, which are supported by the McKnight Foundation. Previous winners include Robert Bly, James Moore, Patricia Hampl, Lorna Landvik, Anne Ursu and so many others.
The last two big awards leading up to next month’s Minnesota Book Awards gala event have been announced. The Hognander History Award, which is given every other year to the author of a significant book about Minnesota history, and the Kay Sexton Award, which is given annually to a person who has made a significant contribution to the world of books, reading and literature in the state, were announced Friday.
The Hognander award will go to Gwen Westerman and Bruce White for their book, “Mni Sota Makoce, The Land of the Dakota.” The book was published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press in 2012 and won a Minnesota Book Award last year.
Westerman is professor of English and Humanities at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Bruce White is author of “We Are at Home: Pictures of the Ojibwe People.”
This year’s Kay Sexton Award winner is Mark Vinz, retired professor of English at Minnesota State University-Moorhead, co-director of the Tom McGrath Visiting Writing Series, and founding editor of the literary journal Dacotah Territory.
Vinz was also director of the college’s MFA program, editor of Dakota Arts Quarterly, and the co-founder of Plains Distribution Service, an organization that worked to get good books into small Midwestern communities.
Vinz is also a poet and fiction writer, winner of three Minnesota Book Awards, six PEN Syndicated Fiction Awards, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry, and was named a poet laureate of North Dakota.
His next collection will be published by Red Dragonfly Press.
Westerman, White and Vinz will be honored on April 5 at the 26th annual Minnesota Book Awards gala at the St. Paul Union Depot.
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