Milkweed Editions, one of Minneapolis' three nonprofit literary presses, has announced a major new prize for poetry. The Lindquist & Vennum Prize will carry a $10,000 award -- putting it in the league of the Kate Tufts Award, one of poetry's most prestigious for emerging poets.
The competition is open to poets in the Upper Midwest -- Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and the Dakotas. Manuscripts must be previously unpublished, and the winner will receive a publication contract from Milkweed.
This year's judge is Peter Campion, author of two collections of poetry and recipient of a Pushcart Prize and other honors. He recently joined the faculty of the University of Minnesota. The Lindquist & Vennum Foundation, sponsor of the award, was established by the Lindquist & Vennum law firm of Minneapolis.
Submissions are open through the end of January. The winner will be announced in April. Guidelines are on the Milkweed website (www.milkweed.org).
• "Brenda, My Darling: The Love Letters of Fridtjof Nansen to Brenda Ueland," has been published by the Utne Institute of Minneapolis. Publisher Eric Utne (Ueland's step-grandson) will launch the book at 7 a.m. Tuesday at the Nordic American Thanksgiving Breakfast in Bloomington. Nansen was a Norwegian hero -- an explorer, scientist and winner of the 1922 Nobel Peace Prize. He met Minneapolis writer Ueland when he was 67 and she was 37. His love letters to her are passionate and explicit, and the book set off a firestorm of controversy when published in Norway -- partly because it includes nude photos of Nansen.
• Sheila Packa, Duluth's poet laureate, has a new book of poems from Wildwood River Press. "Cloud Birds" is about bears, birds, immigrants and women moving through violence. Packa's work has been published in Ploughshares, the Cortland Review and other literary magazines, and has been widely anthologized. Packa is also the editor of "Migrations: Poetry and Prose for Life's Transitions," also recently published by Wildwood River Press. "Migrations" includes poems by Connie Wanek, Jim Perlman, Ryan Vine, Linda LeGarde Grover, and many other northern Minnesota poets.
• "Little Dickens: A Droll and Most Extraordinary History," by Tom Hegg, illustrated by Kevin Cannon, has been published by Nodin Press. Hegg, who is the author of "A Cup of Christmas Tea," freely borrows several characters from the works of Charles Dickens for his rhyming story. Cannon, a Minneapolis artist, is also the illustrator of the new book "Ben and Lucy Play Pond Hockey." Hegg and Cannon will sign books at 7 p.m. Monday at HarMar Barnes and Noble, and at noon Dec. 8 at Barnes and Noble on the Nicollet Mall.