Laurie Hertzel is senior editor for books at the Star Tribune, where she has worked since 1996. She is the author of "News to Me: Adventures of an Accidental Journalist," winner of a Minnesota Book Award.

Posts about Local publishers

Encores for three Minnesota Book Award winners

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: April 18, 2015 - 9:33 PM
This year's trophy is made of blue glass.

This year's trophy is made of blue glass.

Novelist Marlon James and poet Joyce Sidman each picked up their second Minnesota Book Award on Saturday night, and previous nominees Julie Klassen and Margi Preus also were among the winners. The Star Tribune's editorial writer Lori Sturdevant picked up her first award for writing; she had previously won two Minnesota Book Awards for editing.

The annual event drew about 800 people to St. Paul’s Union Depot for a festive night of music, champagne and celebration of the written word. Here are the winners:

Children’s Literature, sponsored by Books for Africa:
Joyce Sidman and Rick Allen: “Winter Bees and Other Poems of the Cold,” published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers. Sidman, a Newbery Honor-winning author, won a Minnesota Book Award in 2010. She lives in Wayzata. Allen is an award-winning illustrator and printmaker in Duluth.

General Nonfiction, sponsored by Minnesota AFL-CIO:
Nancy Koester: “Harriet Beecher Stowe: A Spiritual Life,” published by William B. Eerdman Publishing Co. Koester is an ordained Lutheran minister and spiritual director. 

Genre Fiction, sponsored by Macalester College:
Julie Klassen: “The Secret of Pembrooke Park,” published by Bethany House Publishers. Klassen is the author of eight novels, including three winners of the Christy Award for Historical Romance.

Memoir & Creative Nonfiction, sponsored by Northwestern Mutual:
Kaethe Schwehn: “Tailings: A Memoir,” published by Cascade Books/Wipf and Stock Publishers. Schwehn is the co-editor of “Claiming Our Callings: Toward a New Understanding of Vocation in the Liberal Arts.” She teaches at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn.

Minnesota, sponsored by St. Mary’s University of Minnesota:
Lori Sturdevant: “Her Honor: Rosalie Wahl and the Minnesota Women’s Movement,” published by the  Minnesota Historical Society Press. Sturdevant is an editorial columnist for the Star Tribune and has written a number of books on Minnesota history.She won a Minnesota Book Award in 2003 for editing "Overcoming: The Autobiography of W. Harry Davis," and in 2001 for editing Elmer L. Andersen's "A Man's Reach."

Novel & Short Story, sponsored by Education Minnesota:
Marlon James: “A Brief History of Seven Killings,” published by Riverhead Books. James is the author of “The Book of Night Women,” winner of a 2010 Minnesota Book Award. He teaches at Macalester College in St. Paul.

Poetry, sponsored by Wellington Management, Inc.:
Sean Hill: “Dangerous Goods,” published by Milkweed Editions. Hill, who was born and raised in Milledgeville, Ga., also is the author of “Blood Ties & Brown Liquor.”

Young People’s Literature, sponsored by the Creative Writing Programs at Hamline University:
Margi Preus: “West of the Moon,” published by Amulet Books. Preus, who lives in Duluth, is a Newbery Honor Award-winning author of five books for young readers. 

Also at the event, writer and educator Mary François Rockcastle received the previously announced Kay Sexton Award for her long-standing contributions to Minnesota’s literary community. And Harriet Bart and her collaborative partners, Philip Gallo and Jill Jevne, won the eighth annual Book Artist Award for a new piece entitled “Ghost Maps.” Since 2000, Bart, Gallo and Jevne have collaborated to produce 10 artist books, two of which have received Minnesota Book Awards.

Judges sifted through 250 books nominated for awards this year, with 32 books selected as finalists. The winners were chosen by judges from around the state. 

Coffee House Press among winners of Bush grant

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: April 1, 2015 - 11:18 AM

MInneapolis' Coffee House Press is one of 16 organizations from Minnesota and the Dakotas to receive a $100,000 grant from the Bush Foundation. The Community Creativity Cohort is a one-time program designed by the Bush Foundation and intended to encourage organizations to integrate the arts into everyday public life.

The sixteen organizations are Coffee House Press, the First People's Fund, PIllsbury House and Theatre, Upstream Arts, Lanesboro Arts, North Dakota Council on the Arts, the Matthews Opera House and Arts Center, West Broadway Business and Area Coalition, Intermedia Arts, Theatre B, Native American Community Development Institute, Children's Theatre Company, High School for Recording Arts, the Duluth-Superior Symphony Association, the White Earth Land Recovery Project, and the Center for Hmong Arts and Talents.

The 16 one-time grants come with no restrictions. Each organization will work with the foundation over the next six months to work with efforts to engage the community and build leadership. The 16 organizations will also meet together twice over the next six months.

The grant seems tailor-made for Coffee House, which, over the last few years, has worked hard to incorporate its original mission--publishing high-quality literary books--with a broader mission to bring literary arts to people through a variety of ways.

"This is an incredible opportunity for us," Coffee House publisher Chris Fischbach said in a prepared statement. "Once we realized that publishing books is just one way that we can achieve our real goal--connecting writers and readers--everything changed, and led to additional kinds of programming.

"This grant will allow us to continue to adapt, to grow, and to learn from our cohorts."

Celebrate African American writing Thursday night at the History Center

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: February 4, 2015 - 1:45 PM
Alexs Pate

Alexs Pate

"Blues Vision: African American Writing from Minnesota," the new anthology edited by Alexs Pate along with co-editors Pamela R. Fletcher and J. Otis Powell!, will be launched into the world Thursday evening at the Minnesota History Center.

This collection of writing by 43 black writers was, Pate says in his introduction, "the culmination of a dream."

"What would a collection of works by African American writers who've lived in Minnesota for significant portions of their lives look like?" he writes. "How much would we talk about the weather? About isolation?"

And so he gathered together poems, essays, stories and recollections from Gordon Parks, and Nellie Stone Johnson, and Kim Hines, and Carolyn Holbrook.David Haynes is here, too, and Tish Jones. Anthony Peyton Porter writes about delivering the Star Tribune back in the day ("As far as I know, I'm the only person to have subscribed to, written for, and delivered the Star Triubne. I once delivered an edition with one of my book reviews, quite a sensation, as I recall.")

And Clarence White writes about applying for a job at the Ford plant, an activity that sends his memory back to growing up in St. Cloud. ("The teachers expected little of me. They also expected little of my siblings, yet we now have four master's degrees among us.")

The book launch will run from 6 to 8 p,m, on Thursday, Feb. 5, at the history center, 345 Kellogg Blvd. W.

Alexs Pate, Tish Jones, Philip Bryant, E.G. Bailey, Taiyon Coleman, Shá Cage, and J. Otis Powell‽ will all be there.

There will be refreshments, a cash bar, a reading, and a book signing. It is free and open to the public.

Long lists, short lists, prizes galore

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: July 23, 2014 - 12:08 PM
Joshua Ferris. Photo by Beowulf Sheehan.

Joshua Ferris. Photo by Beowulf Sheehan.

So much prize news this morning that I'm just going to round it all up in one place. We have the Man Booker Prize longlist (with Americans, for the first time!); the Dylan Thomas prize longlist (hello, Coffee House Press!), and the New Rivers Many Voices prizes for both poetry and prose (hello, California and Duluth!).

Worth noting: Joshua Ferris' novel, "To Rise Again at a Decent Hour" is on the longlist for both the Booker Prize and the Dylan Thomas Prize.

The Man Booker Prize longlist

This is the first year that the prestigious British literary prize has been opened to any author who writes in English. Previously, the award was restricted to writers of Ireland, UK and its commonwealth. The list includes Northfield, Minn., native Siri Hustvedt. Several of the titles have not yet been released in the United States.

To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, Joshua Ferris (Viking)
The Narrow Road to the Deep North, Richard Flanagan (Chatto & Windus)
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Karen Joy Fowler (Serpent's Tail)
The Blazing World, Siri Hustvedt (Sceptre)
J,  Howard Jacobson (Jonathan Cape) 
The Wake, Paul Kingsnorth (Unbound)
The Bone Clocks, David Mitchell (Sceptre)
The Lives of Others, Neel Mukherjee (Chatto & Windus)
Us, David Nicholls (Hodder & Stoughton)
The Dog, Joseph O'Neill (Fourth Estate)
Orfeo, Richard Powers (Atlantic Books)
How to be Both,  Ali Smith (Hamish Hamilton)
History of the Rain, Niall Williams (Bloomsbury) 

The Man Booker Prize carries an award of 50,000 British pounds (about $85,000). The short list will be announced Sept. 9 and the winner Oct. 14.

The Dylan Thomas Prize

The Dylan Thomas Prize, named for the Welsh poet and administered by Swansea College in Wales, goes to a writer 39 years old or younger. Included on this list is "A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing," winner of the Baileys Award (formerly the Orange Prize) and to be published this fall by Coffee House Press.

Eimear McBride

Eimear McBride

Daniel Alarcón, At Night We Walk in Circles
Eleanor Catton, The Luminaries
John Donnelly, The Pass
Joshua Ferris, To Rise Again at a Decent Hour
Emma Healey, Elizabeth is Missing
Meena Kandasamy, The Gypsy Goddess
Eimear McBride, A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing
Kseniya Melnik, Snow in May
Kei Miller, The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion
Nadifa Mohamed, The Orchard of Lost Souls
Owen Sheers, Mametz
Tom Rob Smith, The Farm
Rufi Thorpe, The Girls from Corona del Mar
Naomi Wood, Mrs Hemingway
Hanya Yanagihara, The People in the Trees

Many Voices Project, New Rivers Press

The Many Voices Project of New Rivers Press began in 1981 and seeks to highlight new and emerging writers in poetry and prose.

The prize includes $1,000 and publication. This year's winner in poetry is Julie Gard of Duluth, and the winner in prose is Tracy Robert of southern California. Gard's poetry collection, "Home Studies," and Robert's book, "Flashcards & The Curse of Ambrosia," will be released in October 2015.

And that brings us to...

Minneapolis writer Kate DiCamillo, so recently honored with her second Newbery Award, the Christopher Medal, the Library of Congress National Ambassadorship to Young People's Literature, the AP Anderson Award, and the Guardian Children's Prize longlist, has yet another honor. (We don't know how big her house is but we are thinking she might need an addition for all of these trophies). DiCamillo has been awarded the Voice of the Heartland Award, which honors writers and institutions that value independent bookselling. DiCamillo was the brains and the enthusiasm behind the establishment this year of the first Indies First Storytime Day, a day in which writers and illustrators read books (not their own) to children in local indie bookstores. DiCamillo read to a throng at Chapter2 Books in Hudson, Wis.

She will be presented with the Voice of the Heartland award Sept. 30 at the annual Heartland Fall Forum trade show in Minneapolis.

Kay Sexton Award, Hognander History Award announced

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: March 7, 2014 - 2:39 PM

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.

Mark Vinz

Mark Vinz

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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