Winter Writers Reading Series

Since 2011 Shake Rag Alley has partnered with the Council for Wisconsin Writers (CWW), Wisconsin People & Ideas, and the Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission through the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters to offer week-long residencies to their annual writing contest winners.

In the tradition established by Edenfred, the Terry Family Foundation’s artist residence in Madison, writers and poets are provided with a week of uninterrupted time to focus on a project of their choice.

Between the months of January through March, writers stay in Shake Rag Alley’s inspiring lodging facilities surrounded by the nurturing environment of historic Mineral Point’s artistic community. Visiting writers participate in readings and/or community outreach activities, including Wednesday evening Winter Writers Reading Series author talks and discussions.

In 2023 we are look forward to welcoming Wisconsin People & Ideas writing contest winners from the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Letters; the Council for Wisconsin Writers contest winners; and the Jade Ring Writing Contest winners from the Wisconsin Writers Association.

All 2023 readings and discussions will be offered virtually via Zoom with some select evenings featuring in-person options.

Please supply an email at registration using the buttons below for Zoom link.

About the Council for Wisconsin Writers

Founded in 1964, CWW has been a non-profit membership organization, run entirely by volunteers, dedicated to promoting local, state, and national awareness of Wisconsin’s great literary heritage and to encouraging excellence among Wisconsin writers today. Through their award series, CWW has encouraged countless Wisconsin writers throughout the years. In summer 2022, CWW dissolved and its award series transferred to the Arts + Literature Lab in Madison.

About Wisconsin People & Ideas

Wisconsin People & Ideas is the quarterly magazine of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters. The leading magazine of Wisconsin thought and culture, Wisconsin People & Ideas features articles by and about scientists, scholars, artists, writers, policymakers and others who serve as thought leaders in Wisconsin. The magazine also publishes works from contemporary and classic Wisconsin artists, writers, and poets. More information can be found at wisconsinacademy.org.

About Wisconsin Writers Association

Wisconsin Writers Association began serving the creative needs of Wisconsin writers in 1948 and is registered with the State of Wisconsin as a non-profit organization. WWA’s Board of Directors and member volunteers work together to donate their time, energy, and ideas to keep WWA going. In addition to the Jade Ring Writing Contest, WWA hosts an annual conference and maintains an online membership directory, as well as listings for Wisconsin writing clubs, guilds, groups, at wiwrite.org.

2023 Writers-in-Residence Readings

January 11

Anthony Bukoski

Council for Wisconsin Writers
Fiction Book Award

Online via Zoom Only

Anthony Bukoski was awarded the Council for Wisconsin Writers Edna Ferber Fiction Book Award for his short story collectionThe Blondes of Wisconsin

Anthony has published seven short-story collections and received numerous awards including: Outstanding Achievement Award from the Wisconsin Library Association; Robert E. Gard Wisconsin Idea Foundation Award for Excellence; Polish American Historical Association Creative Arts Award and the Oskar Halecki Prize. In 1997, he was featured in the PBS video A Sense of Place: A Portrait of Three Midwestern Writers.

The New York Times Book Review has called him “a sure-handed, lyrical writer.”

Born in the East End of Superior, Anthony began his undergraduate  work at Wisconsin State University Superior. He left after a year, joined the Marines in the summer of 1964, and went to Vietnam. He  returned three years later and finished school. Next it was on to Brown University for an MA in English, then to Iowa for an MFA in fiction  from the Writer’s Workshop in 1976, and a PhD in English in 1984. For the greater part of his career and until his retirement, Bukoski was a professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Superior. 

 
Like stones cast into a river, these sixteen moving, intimate stories illuminate how devotion and degeneration ripple through a working-class Polish American community in the postindustrial Midwest. At the heart of the collection is Eddie “The Bronko” Bronkowski, a boxer with a losing record whose reputation as a human punching bag precedes him. In each of Anthony Bukoski’s rich stories, tough yet sympathetic characters—the second cook on a Great Lakes freighter, a World War II veteran, the emcee of a female boxing troupe—take all that life throws at them, protecting those around them as best they can.

In Bukoski’s interconnected tales, the heart seeks its due despite familial conflict, the challenges of maritime work, and the slow yet inexorable decline of dementia. Beautiful vignettes express transformative moments: tenderness that can turn a cardboard crown into gold and the faint ghosts of memories long forgotten. A tour-de-force, The Blondes of Wisconsin knows what love is—and what it means to lose it.
 

Edna Ferber Fiction Book Award

The Edna Ferber Fiction Book Award is given to the best fiction book published by a Wisconsin-based author in the previous year. From 1965 to 1991, this award was given as the Book-length Fiction Award, in 1993 as the Leslie Cross Book-length Fiction Award, and from 1994 to 2012 as the Anne Powers Fiction Book Award.

About its namesake:

Edna_Ferber2

Edna Ferber (1888-1968), world famous in her day, was the author of 12 novels, nine plays (some in collaboration with other playwrights), 12 short story collections, and two autobiographies. Her novels included So Big (Pulitzer Prize winner in 1925), Show Boat (made into a musical in 1927), Cimarron (made into the 1931 Academy Award-winning movie), and Giant (made into the 1956 movie). When she was 12, her family moved to Appleton. She briefly attended Lawrence College and worked for the Appleton Daily Crescent and the Milwaukee Journal before writing her first novel. She was also a member of the celebrated Algonquin Round Table. Possessed with a strong sense of her Jewish identity, Ferber was a lifelong fighter against anti-Semitism.

January 18

Lawrence tabak

Council for Wisconsin Writers
Nonfiction Book Award

In-person & Online via Zoom

Lawrence Tabak was awarded the Council for Wisconsin Writers Norbert Blei/August Derleth Nonfiction Book Award for Foxconned: Imaginary Jobs, Bulldozed Homes, and the Sacking of Local Government.

A widely published feature writer, essayist and novelist, Lawrence has written for numerous magazines and newspapers, including Salon.com, the New York Times and The Atlantic Monthly. He was educated at Northwestern University and the University of Iowa, from which he holds a M.A. in English. He has been a finalist for Best American Essays and a recipient of Tennis Week’s Magazine’s Great American Tennis Writing Award.

When Wisconsin governor Scott Walker stood shoulder to shoulder with President Trump and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan at the White House in July 2017, they painted a glorious picture of his state’s future. Foxconn, the enormous China-based electronics firm, was promising to bring TV manufacturing back to the United States with a $10 billion investment and 13,000 well-paying jobs. They actually were making America great again, they crowed.

Two years later, the project was in shambles. Ten thousand construction workers were supposed to have been building what Trump had promised would be “the eighth wonder of the world.” Instead, land had been seized, homes had been destroyed, and hundreds of millions of municipal dollars had been committed for just a few hundred jobs—nowhere near enough for Foxconn to earn the incentives Walker had shoveled at them. In Foxconned, journalist Lawrence Tabak details the full story of this utter collapse, which was disturbingly inevitable.

As Tabak shows, everything about Foxconn was a disaster. But worse, he reveals how the economic incentive infrastructure across the country is broken, leading to waste, cronyism, and the steady transfer of tax revenue to corporations. Tabak details every kind of financial chicanery, from eminent domain abuse to good old-fashioned looting—all to benefit a coterie of consultants, politicians, and contractors. With compassion and care, he also reports the distressing stories of the many individuals whose lives were upended by Foxconn.

 

Norbert Blei/August Derleth Nonfiction Book Award

The Norbert Blei/August Derleth Nonfiction Book Award is given to the best nonfiction book published by a Wisconsin-based author in the previous year.

About its namesakes:

Norbert Blei
Norbert Blei in his writing studio, a converted chicken coop in Ellison Bay, Wisconsin.

Norbert Blei [pronounced BLY] (1935-2013) grew up in Chicago and moved to Door County in 1968. The author of 18 books—fiction, nonfiction, essays, and poetry—Blei was described as a literary descendant of Carl Sandburg, Ernest Hemingway, Mike Royko, Studs Terkel, and Nelson Algren. His main literary themes were the sense of community and threats to community, whether in ethnic neighborhoods in Chicago or in his beloved Door County. Known for nurturing aspiring writers, he taught writing workshops for over 30 years at The Clearing in Door County. In 1994, he established Cross+Roads Press, which published the first chapbooks of poets, novelists, short story writers, and artists. Among his notable works were the nonfiction books Chi Town, Neighborhood, Door Way, Door Steps, and Meditations on a Small Lake.

August Derleth
August Derleth. Image courtesy of UW Digital Collections.

August Derleth [pronounced DER leth] (1909-1971), a leading regional writer of his day, lived most of his life in Sauk City. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin, he was a prolific author (more than 100 books), including horror, historical fiction, detective fiction, science fiction, biography, short stories, and poetry. His most ambitious work, the nonfiction Sac Prairie Saga series, combines fiction, historical fiction, nonfiction naturalist works, and poetry to memorialize life in Wisconsin at that time. He also founded Arkham House publishers, which brought to the United States supernatural fiction that had previously been available only in the UK; Arkham was the first publisher of horror fiction author H.P. Lovecraft.

January 25

JENNA RINDO

Council for Wisconsin Writers
Poetry Award

In-person & Online via Zoom

Jenna Rindo was awarded the Council for Wisconsin Writers Lorine Niedecker Poetry Award for five poems published in various journals.

Jenna worked for years as a pediatric RN at hospitals in Virginia, Florida and Wisconsin. She writes to better understand and appreciate the complications of the human body, mind and spirit. As a runner she trains for races from the 5K to the full marathon and often arranges words and make revisions in her head as she runs and bikes. Jenna now teaches Swahili, Hmong, Spanish, Urdu and Kurdish students at Oshkosh elementary schools. Along with her husband Ron she raised a blended family of five children on a five acre parcel of land in rural Pickett, tending orchards, gardens, hens and Shetland sheep.

Her poems and essays have been published in health related journals such as American Journal of Nursing, Ars Medica, Blood and Thunder: Musings on the art of medicine, Chest, and Healing Muse, as well as the literary journals Calyx, Shenandoah, Comstock Review, Tampa Review, Prism Review, Bellingham Review, Sow’s Ear, Verse Wisconsin, WFOP calendars, and Wisconsin People and Ideas Magazine. Her work has also appeared in several anthologies, including Local News: Poetry About Small Towns, A Call to Nursing, Lavenderia, and Hope is the Thing.

Leslie Monsour, poetry category judge, made the following comments:

“In language gratifyingly vital and memorable, Jenna Rindo’s poems

illuminate with rare grace the elemental bravery that connects women’s

lives to one another and to nature. Rindo’s skillfully sustained metaphors

consistently lead to a deeper understanding of human experience, as in

“Hope is the Vixen Fox” the title and first line of a poem so unforgettably

specific and personal, it resonates with profound universality, which can

be said of all five poems in this exceptional group.”

 

Prize-winning poems:

Hope is the Vixen Fox

Step Over Cracks

She Rides Bareback Into Babies

After a stint of graveyard shifts

Out of Wedlock [Mount Hope Magazine]

Lorine Niedecker Poetry Award

The Lorine Niedecker Poetry Award is given to the best collection of up to five poems published in literary magazines by a Wisconsin-based writer in the previous year.

About its namesake:

Lorine Niedecker at desk.
Lorine sitting at her desk in her Blackhawk Island cottage near Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin. Image courtesy of the Hoard Historical Museum.

Lorine Niedecker [pronounced NEE dicur] (1903-1970) was born on Blackhawk Island near Fort Atkinson, where she lived for most of her life. After two years at Beloit College, she returned home and began writing poetry, supporting herself by proofreading, writing for a radio station, and even cleaning hospital floors. At first, her work was influenced by Imagist and Objectivist poets, but she gradually developed her own voice and style, characterized by spare language, subtle rhythms, and stark, vivid imagery. During her lifetime, she published her four poetry books at infrequent intervals (New Goose in 1946 and My Friend Tree in 1962), although she was a regular contributor to literary magazines. Since her death, the publication of four additional books, her Collected Works (2002), in particular, has contributed to her reputation as a original and significant voice in contemporary American poetry.

February 1

ADRIANNA McCOLLUM

Wisconsin Writers Association
Jade Ring Nonfiction Award

In-person & Online via Zoom

Adrianna McCollum was awarded the Wisconsin Writers Association Jade Ring Nonfiction Award for  “Mormon Girl and the Styrofoam Harem.”

Adrianna Lewis McCollum is a writer of nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. Her work has been published in The Bark, A Year In Ink: Volume 15, Wisconsin Writers Anthology 2022, and Creative Wisconsin Magazine. She was recently featured in her hometown paper, the Oregon Observer.

Her nonfiction mostly recounts her experiences coming-of-age as a motherless girl in Salt Lake City in the 1980s, while her poetry touches on themes of nature, identity, and motherhood.

She is working on final revisions of a middle-grade portal fantasy novel called The Palimpsest. She was inspired to write in the fantasy genre after having an inexplicable experience while attending graduate school at Oxford. She is certain this is why so many of the world’s best fantasy writers come from Oxford, like J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Lewis Carroll, and Philip Pullman.

From the Oregon Observer:

“Mormon Girl and the Styrofoam Harem,” details the obstacles of her early ‘80s childhood in Salt Lake City, Utah. With a father excommunicated from the Mormon church and obsessed with maintaining a wig collection, readers are able to see the world through the eyes of a young McCollum navigating the transformative period of adolescence in the midst of a remarkable environment.

Wisconsin Writers Association judges had this to say about the winning piece: “An arresting recollection of the unique environment of the author’s upbringing, full of insight, commentary, and a peculiar wonder.” Read “Mormon Girl and the Styrofoam Harem” in the September 2022 issue of WWA Creative Wisconsin Magazine.

The Jade Ring Writing Contest has a celebrated history that began in 1949 when the Wisconsin Rural Writers Association (which later became the Wisconsin Writers Association) opened its inaugural writing competition. At the time, the contest was unnamed and its prizes, one could say, were ordinary. But that fall, the extraordinary happened when members gathered at the Green Lake Conference Center in Green Lake, Wis. for the first statewide meeting. 

They were treated to a presentation by a man whose name could be found in almost every refrigerator across the country. James L. Kraft’s talk that day wasn’t about the popular pasteurized cheese slices that had taken America by storm, or how he’d built a business that today is one of our country’s most powerful brands. The 76-year-old founder of Kraft Foods shared his collection of semi-precious stones and hobby of collecting, cutting and polishing jade into beautiful gemstone. He read his poem, Desert Jewels and offered to create and donate the prize for the first annual writing contest.  

Kraft’s talent and generosity of a beautifully handcrafted jade ring sparked interest that inspired over 1,000 writers to enter short stories, poems, and plays in the 1950 competition. The contest found its name in the highly valued and sought-after first-place prize.

February 8

nancy jesse

Wisconsin Writers Association
Jade Ring Fiction Award

Online via Zoom Only

Nancy Jesse was awarded the Wisconsin Writers Association Jade Ring in fiction for her short story “Notes to the New Facilitator of the Reminiscence Writing Group at Sunnyvale Retirement Community.”

Nancy Jesse grew up on a dairy farm in Barron County, studied English at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and worked for over thirty years as an educator. She lives in Madison and has published both prose and poetry and co-edited two anthologies.

The Jade Ring Writing Contest has a celebrated history that began in 1949 when the Wisconsin Rural Writers Association (which later became the Wisconsin Writers Association) opened its inaugural writing competition. At the time, the contest was unnamed and its prizes, one could say, were ordinary. But that fall, the extraordinary happened when members gathered at the Green Lake Conference Center in Green Lake, Wis. for the first statewide meeting. 

They were treated to a presentation by a man whose name could be found in almost every refrigerator across the country. James L. Kraft’s talk that day wasn’t about the popular pasteurized cheese slices that had taken America by storm, or how he’d built a business that today is one of our country’s most powerful brands. The 76-year-old founder of Kraft Foods shared his collection of semi-precious stones and hobby of collecting, cutting and polishing jade into beautiful gemstone. He read his poem, Desert Jewels and offered to create and donate the prize for the first annual writing contest.  

Kraft’s talent and generosity of a beautifully handcrafted jade ring sparked interest that inspired over 1,000 writers to enter short stories, poems, and plays in the 1950 competition. The contest found its name in the highly valued and sought-after first-place prize.

February 15

TOM PAMPERIN

Wisconsin People & Ideas
Fiction Award

In-person & Online via Zoom

Tom Pamperin was awarded first place in the Wisconsin People & Ideas Fiction contest by the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Letters for the short story “In Rock Springs When the Angel Trumpets Sound.”

Tom Pamperin is a teacher, writer, small boat sailor, and (very) occasional boat builder. He currently teaches English language and literature at IPS International School in Wrocław, Poland. Tom’s nonfiction appears regularly in WoodenBoat MagazineSmall Boats, and Small Craft Advisor. In 2014, his memoir Jagular Goes Everywhere: (mis)Adventures in a $300 Sailboat was an honorable mention for the Council for Wisconsin Writers August Derleth/Norbert Blei Nonfiction Book Award. Contest judge Scott Korb, who was recently named the director of Pacific University’s MFA program, had this to say:

“Pamperin’s Jagular Goes Everywhere is my choice as Honorable Mention in large part for its playfulness, for Pamperin’s willingness to bend the rules of nonfiction almost to their breaking point… The writing is strong, thoughtful, and at times totally hilarious. It’s fun to watch a writer so ruthlessly point out his own foolishness. But the takeaway is actually quite serious; the book becomes a meditation on a life dedicated, in some small way, to solitude and contemplation… This book deserves many readers.”

During his residence at Shake Rag Alley, Tom will be working on a collection of short fiction that explores the experience of teachers and students in the U.S. public schools, creating stories in which a William Shakespeare action figure spends its nights in the classroom rewriting classic novels in blank verse, a young teacher is run through a laminating machine, and a sophisticated AI algorithm used to grade student essays resists efforts to shut it down.

From Contest Judge, Amy Quan Barry:

“When Burnhardt finds himself without a car on the very day the apocalyptic visions of John of Patmos begin raining down out of the sky, what had been his meandering
path through life takes on new urgency. A compelling story of the search for community in a world that often favors our floating along on the surface of things.”

The Wisconsin Academy creates opportunities for people to connect, learn, and collaborate to improve life in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Academy showcases contemporary Wisconsin art at the James Watrous Gallery, examines science and culture in Wisconsin People & Ideas magazine, and explores pathways to a sustainable future through its Climate and Energy Initiative. The Academy Courses and public talks provide opportunities to learn and explore, while making connections with curious and creative people across Wisconsin. The Academy recognizes excellence through the annual Fiction & Poetry Awards and Fellows Awards for leadership in and across disciplines. We also support the Wisconsin Poet Laureate and many other endeavors that help the Academy create a better world by connecting Wisconsin people and ideas.

February 22

DeWITT CLINTON

Council for Wisconsin Writers Poetry Book Award

Online via Zoom Only

DeWitt Clinton was awarded the Council for Wisconsin Writers Edna Muedt Poetry Book Award for Hello There.

DeWitt Clinton is the author of The Conquistador Dog Texts and The Coyot. Inca Texts (New Rivers Press), At the End of the War (Kelsay Books, 2018), On a Lake by a Moon: Fishing with the Chinese Masters, (Is A Rose Press, 2019), and Hello There (Word Poetry, 2021) and six chapbooks. His poems and essays have appeared in the Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue, Cultural Studies< => Critical Methodologies, Storytelling Sociology: Narrative as Social Inquiry, Divine Inspiration: The Life of Jesus in World Poetry (Oxford U Press), and recently in Wise Guys: An Online Magazine, Negative Capability, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, Verse-Virtual, Peacock Journal, Ekphrastic Review, Diaphanous Press, Meta/Phor(e)Play, The Arabesques Review, and the Santa Fe Literary Review. He is Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Wisconsin—Whitewater, and lives in Shorewood, Wisconsin. 

The poems in Hello There explore myriad ways of feeling loss, or losing someone precious, perhaps elderly friends, or fellow soldiers, or feeling losses through Chinese myth or an Irish rune. Something valuable, desired, is now lost in memory, and sometimes even that memory is lost.

Edna Meudt Poetry Book Award

The Edna Meudt Poetry Book Award is given to the best book of poems published by a Wisconsin-based writer in the previous year. From 1965 to 1992 this award was given as the Poetry Award, and from 1993 to 2012 as the Posner Poetry Book Award.

About its namesake:

Edna Meudt

Edna Meudt [pronounced MITE] (1906-1989) was born on a farm in Wyoming Valley and lived most of her life on a farm near Dodgeville. She was a teacher, lecturer, editor, and writer who published six books of poetry and two plays. She taught poetry at Rhinelander School of Arts for 18 years and was a co-founder of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets, as well as president of the National Federation of State Poetry Societies. Widely published in magazines, she edited The Country Poetand a series of anthologies, An Upland Reader I, II, and III. Among her books are the much-lauded Round River Canticle, The Ineluctable Sea(which won the National League of American Pen Women prize in 1976), Plain Chant for a Tree, and her autobiography, The Rose Jar (1990).

March 1

Jennifer Morales

Council for Wisconsin Writers
Short Fiction Award

In-person & Online via Zoom

Jennifer Morales was awarded the Council for Wisconsin Writers Zona Gale Short Fiction Award for “The Doorman,” published in the anthology Fire & Water: Stories from the Anthropocene, by Black Lawrence Press.

Jennifer Morales is a poet, fiction writer, and performance artist whose work wrestles with questions of gender, identity, complicity, and harm. Raised in the Chicago area, she spent nearly 25 years in Milwaukee. She now lives in rural Wisconsin. Jennifer became the first person in her immediate family to graduate from college when she earned a bachelor’s degree in Modern Languages and Literatures from Beloit College in 1991. After college she moved to Milwaukee, where she raised children and served as an education researcher, a doula, a grantwriter, a Sunday School teacher, and a politician. From 2001-2009 she was an elected member of the Milwaukee Public Schools board, the first Latinx and first out queer person to hold this office in the city’s history.

She earned her MFA from the Creative Writing program at Antioch University-Los Angeles in 2011. Jennifer’s first book, Meet Me Halfway (UW Press, 2015), a collection of interconnected short stories about life in hyper-segregated Milwaukee, was the Wisconsin Center for the Book’s 2016 “Book of the Year.” She has short fiction forthcoming in Milwaukee Noir (Akashic, spring 2019) and Cutting Edge: Female Noir, edited by Joyce Carol Oates (Akashic, fall 2019). Recent publications include poems in MAYDAY, Glass Poetry, and Stoneboat. An excerpt of her unpublished novel, Junction, appeared in the spring 2017 issue of the literary journal The Account, and another excerpt appears in Happy Hours: LGBT Voices from the Gay Bars (Flashpoint, 2017), edited by S. Renée Bess and Lee Lynch.

The story features a magical realism vibe and a cast of wild animals!

Available in the anthology Fire & Water: Stories from the Anthropocene.

Zona Gale Award for Short Fiction

The Zona Gale Award for Short Fiction goes to the best piece of short fiction published by a Wisconsin-based author in the previous year. From 1966 to 1992 this award was given as the Short Fiction Award, and from 1993 to 2012 as the Larry and Eleanor Sternig Award for Short Fiction.

About its namesake:

Zona Gale

Zona Gale (1874-1938), born in Portage, was a novelist, playwright, and short story writer whose work was inspired by her hometown. Her contemporary stories—often set in the fictional town of Friendship Village—focused on local color and descriptions of ordinary Midwestern people. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin, she worked as a journalist in Milwaukee and New York before returning to Portage to concentrate on her writing. In 1921, she became the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for drama for the adaptation of her novel Miss Lulu Bett. She was active in progressive and feminist causes, including the National Women’s Party.

Week of March 8: MPSD

Yvette Viets Flaten

Wisconsin Writers Association Jade Ring Poetry Award

In-school Presentation Only

Yvette Viets Flaten was awarded a Wisconsin Writers Association Jade Ring for her poem “Reflections of a Poet as a Young Girl 1969.”

Yvette Viets Flaten has degrees in Spanish and history from the UW–Eau Claire. She writes fiction and poetry. Her poetry has appeared in the Wisconsin Academy Review, Hurricane Alice, Avocet, Free Verse, Midwest Review, Red Cedar, Barstow and Grand, and The Writer’s Almanac Pandemic Poetry Contest. Her short fiction has won awards in the Lakefly Writing Contest, and her pandemic short story, “La Pestilencia,” appeared in The London Reader. She lives in Eau Claire.

Author, editor, and recovering journalist. Dave Rank, founder and director of Novel-In- Progress Bookcamp & Writing Retreat, Inc., said this about Yvette Viet Flaten’s first-place piece: “Don’t let the mundane title fool you, this is one powerful short story written with humor, pathos, well-defined characters, and insight into the foibles and strengths of multiple individuals, all told within 1,800 deftly chosen words. It was an easy choice for first place.”

Read “Reflections of a Poet as a Young Girl 1969” in the September 2022 issue of WWA Creative Wisconsin Magazine.

The Jade Ring Writing Contest has a celebrated history that began in 1949 when the Wisconsin Rural Writers Association (which later became the Wisconsin Writers Association) opened its inaugural writing competition. At the time, the contest was unnamed and its prizes, one could say, were ordinary. But that fall, the extraordinary happened when members gathered at the Green Lake Conference Center in Green Lake, Wis. for the first statewide meeting. 

They were treated to a presentation by a man whose name could be found in almost every refrigerator across the country. James L. Kraft’s talk that day wasn’t about the popular pasteurized cheese slices that had taken America by storm, or how he’d built a business that today is one of our country’s most powerful brands. The 76-year-old founder of Kraft Foods shared his collection of semi-precious stones and hobby of collecting, cutting and polishing jade into beautiful gemstone. He read his poem, Desert Jewels and offered to create and donate the prize for the first annual writing contest.  

Kraft’s talent and generosity of a beautifully handcrafted jade ring sparked interest that inspired over 1,000 writers to enter short stories, poems, and plays in the 1950 competition. The contest found its name in the highly valued and sought-after first-place prize.

March 15

Craig Reinbold

Council for Wisconsin Writers
Short Nonfiction Award

In-person & Online via Zoom

Craig Reinbold was awarded the Council for Wisconsin Writers Short Nonfiction Award for the essay “What We Might Salvage,” which appeared in issue 93 of the literary journal AGNI.

Craig’s writing has appeared in The Gettysburg Review, The Iowa Review, AGNIGuernica, The Rumpus, and Brevity. He is a regular contributor to Essay Daily and co-edited, with Ander Monson, How We Speak to One Another: AnEssay Daily Reader (Coffee House Press, 2017). He works as a nurse in a Milwaukee-area ER.

“It’s summer 2020. I’m an ER nurse on the swing shift—1100 to 2330—and lately I’ve been lunching around seven p.m., knocking out my eight or so hours in the hot zone first, then cruising to the end cold. Hot zone, cold zone—this is the lingo we now live with, and within.” — so begins the essay “What We Might Salvage,” reprinted online by Arts+Lits Lab.

Kay W. Levin Award for Short Nonfiction

The Kay W. Levin Award for Short Nonfiction goes to the best piece of short non-fiction published by a Wisconsin-based author in the previous year. From 1967 to 1992 this award was given as the Short Nonfiction Award.

About its namesake:

Kay W. Levin (1925- 1989) was a board member of the Council for Wisconsin Writers in its formative years. After her death in 1990, her family endowed the award for short nonfiction in her memory. Ms. Levin had written children’s fiction before she and her husband, Robert, moved to Cleveland, Wisconsin, in 1974 from Chicago. Slowing to the pace of rural life, she turned her attention to essay writing, using as her inspiration events from everyday life on Kingfisher Farm, where they lived. Her articles on topics as diverse as her daughter’s death in a car crash to the harvesting of maple syrup appeared in The Milwaukee Journal Wisconsin Magazine among other publications. Levin was a champion of Wisconsin Writers and the award in her name lives on to encourage essay writers into the future.

March 22

nick gulig

Wisconsin People & Ideas
Poetry Award

Online via Zoom Only

Nick Gulig, winner of the Wisconsin People & Ideas Poetry Award for “Of Genesis,” will read from and discuss his work.

Nick is a Thai-American poet from Wisconsin, who was educated in Montana, Iowa, and Colorado. In 2011, he earned a Fulbright Fellowship to Bangkok, Thailand. His published works include the book-length poems North of Order (Yes Yes Books, 2015) and Book of Lake (CutBank Books, 2016). His third full-length collection, Orient, received the 2017 CSU Poetry Center Open Book Award and was published by Cleveland State University in 2018. Gulig currently lives in Fort Atkinson and teaches at the University of Wisconsin–Whitewater.

Forthcoming

The Wisconsin Academy creates opportunities for people to connect, learn, and collaborate to improve life in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Academy showcases contemporary Wisconsin art at the James Watrous Gallery, examines science and culture in Wisconsin People & Ideas magazine, and explores pathways to a sustainable future through its Climate and Energy Initiative. The Academy Courses and public talks provide opportunities to learn and explore, while making connections with curious and creative people across Wisconsin. The Academy recognizes excellence through the annual Fiction & Poetry Awards and Fellows Awards for leadership in and across disciplines. We also support the Wisconsin Poet Laureate and many other endeavors that help the Academy create a better world by connecting Wisconsin people and ideas.

Week of March 29: MPSD

rochelle melander

Council for Wisconsin Writers Children's Literature Award

In-school Presentation Only

Rochelle Melander was awarded the Council for Wisconsin Writers Arthur Tofte/Betty Ran Wright Children’s Literature Award for her book Mightier Than the Sword: Rebels, Reformers, and Revolutionaries Who Changed the World Through Writing.

Rochelle is a teaching artist, professional certified coach and the author of a dozen books.

Rochelle is the founder of Dream Keepers, a writing workshop that teaches young people how they can change their lives and communities through writing. She’s taught writing to children and adults at schools, universities, libraries, art museums, botanical gardens, churches, synagogues, corporate events, and art studios.

Rochelle loves to learn and has earned two master’s degrees, received a certificate of study in professional coaching, and completed the National Writing Project’s Summer Writing Institute. She holds the PCC certification from the International Coach Federation and is currently studying to become a Certified ADHD Coach. Rochelle has coached young people and adults from all over the world.

Rochelle believes that you can find the answer to your questions and the questions that deserve answers in a book or at the tip of your pen. She writes books, blog posts, journal entries, shopping lists and the occasional poem and owns enough books to start her own library. Even so, she reached the library’s lending limit many times while writing Mightier than The Sword.

She lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with her husband, children, and two goofy rescue dogs. Rochelle also blogs at https://writenowcoach.com/blog/

Throughout history, people have picked up their pens and wielded their words–transforming their lives, their communities, and beyond. Now it’s your turn! Representing a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences, Mightier Than the Sword connects over forty inspiring biographies with life-changing writing activities and tips, showing readers just how much their own words can make a difference. Readers will explore nature with Rachel Carson, experience the beginning of the Reformation with Martin Luther, champion women’s rights with Sojourner Truth, and many more. These richly illustrated stories of inspiring speechmakers, scientists, explorers, authors, poets, activists, and even other kids and young adults will engage and encourage young people to pay attention to their world, to honor their own ideas and dreams, and to embrace the transformative power of words to bring good to the world.

Arthur Tofte/Betty Ren Wright Children’s Literature Award

The Arthur Tofte/Betty Ren Wright Children’s Literature Award is given to the Best Children’s Book published by a Wisconsin-based writer in the previous year. From 1966 to 1992 this award was known as the Juvenile Book Award, and from 1997-2003 as the Arthur Tofte Juvenile Fiction Book Award.

About its namesakes:

Arthur Tofte

Arthur Tofte (1902-1980) enjoyed two distinctly different careers: one as a businessman and the other as an author of science fiction, fantasy, and the occult. He published his first story, “The Meteor Monsters,” for Amazingmagazine in 1938 when he was a member of the Milwaukee Fictioneers, a group focused on the memory and style of influential science fiction writer Stanley G. Weinbaum. Tofte then focused on his career as a business executive in Milwaukee. Upon his retirement in 1969, and with the encouragement of editor Roger Elwood, he began publishing again, eventually producing five novels, 18 short stories, and four essays. His most popular works include Crash Landing on Iduna (1975), Walls Within Walls(1975), and The Ghost Hunters. His The Day the Earth Stood Still (1976) is a full-length version of the short story made into the world-famous film.

Betty Ren Wright

Betty Ren Wright (1927- 2013) grew up in Milwaukee, graduated from Milwaukee-Downer College (now Lawrence University), and worked as an editor for Western Publishing Co. in Racine from 1949 to 1978 until turning to writing full time. Known for her mastery of mystery and suspense, her popular mysteries for middle-grade readers include A Ghost in the House, The Ghost of Mercy Manor, Too Many Secrets, and A Ghost Comes Calling. Her novel The Dollhouse Murders was a 1983 Edgar Award nominee in the best juvenile category and won the Texas Blue Bonnet Award. She also wrote 35 picture books, and her short stories appeared in Young Miss, Ladies’ Home Journal, Redbook, and many other magazines.

2021-2022

Owen Aibric
Wisconsin Writers Association
Jade Ring Fiction Winner

Jennifer Fandel
Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters
People & Ideas Fiction Contest Winner

Kathie Giorgio
Wisconsin Writers Association
Jade Ring Poetry Winner

Lora Hyler
Wisconsin Writers Association
Jade Ring Nonfiction Winner

Dasha Kelly Hamilton
Wisconsin Poet Laureate

Allison Uselman
Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters
People & Ideas Poetry Contest Winner

2020-2021

Kimberly Blaeser
Council for Wisconsin Writers
Zona Gale Short Fiction Award

Council for Wisconsin Writers
Edna Meudt Poetry Book Award

Matt Blessing
Council for Wisconsin Writers
Kay W. Levin Award for Short Nonfiction

Thomas Davis
Council for Wisconsin Writers
Edna Ferber Fiction Book Award

Krista Eastman
Council for Wisconsin Writers
Norbert Blei/August Derleth Nonfiction Book Award

Susan Martell Huebner
Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters
People & Ideas Poetry Contest Winner

Dean Robbins
Council for Wisconsin Writers
Tofte/Wright Children’s Literary Award

David Southward
Council for Wisconsin Writers
Lorine Niedecker Poetry Award

William Stobb
Council for Wisconsin Writers
Zona Gale Short Fiction Award

Jacquelyn Thomas
Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters
People & Ideas Fiction Contest Winner

2019-2020

Marilyn Annucci
Council for Wisconsin Writers
Edna Meudt Poetry Book Award

Laura Jean Baker
Council for Wisconsin Writers
Norbert Blei/August Derleth Nonfiction Book Award

Liam Callanan
Council for Wisconsin Writers
Edna Ferber Fiction Book Award

Christina Clancy
Council for Wisconsin Writers
Kay W. Levin Award for Short Nonfiction

Steve Fox
Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters
People & Ideas Fiction Contest Winner

Kathryn Gahl
Council for Wisconsin Writers
Lorine Niedecker Poetry Award

Margaret Rozga
Wisconsin Poet Laureate

Robert Russell
Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters
People & Ideas Poetry Contest Winner

2018-2019

Matt Cashion
Council for Wisconsin Writers
Edna Ferber Fiction Book Award

Ronnie Hess
Council for Wisconsin Writers
Norbert Blei/August Derleth Nonfiction Book Award

Matthew Guenette
Council for Wisconsin Writers
Edna Meudt Poetry Book Award

Michael Hopkins
Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters
People & Ideas Fiction Contest Winner

Jenna Rindo
Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters
People & Ideas Poetry Contest Winner

Ed Werstein
Council for Wisconsin Writers
Lorine Niedecker Award

2017-2018

Paula Dáil
Council for Wisconsin Writers
Norbert Blei/August Derleth Nonfiction Book Award

Nicholas Gulig
Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters
People & Ideas Poetry Contest Winner

Karla Huston
Wisconsin Poet Laureate

Catherine Jagoe
Council for Wisconsin Writers
Edna Meudt Poetry Book Award

Rachel Davidson Leigh
Council for Wisconsin Writers
Tofte/Wright Children’s Literature Award

Patricia Skalka
Council for Wisconsin Writers
Edna Ferber Fiction Book Award

David Southward
Council for Wisconsin Writers
Lorine Niedecker Poetry Award

Bob Wake
Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters
People & Ideas Fiction Contest Winner

Carolyn Kott Washburne
Council for Wisconsin Writers
Kay W. Levin Short Nonfiction Award

Liz Wyckoff
Council for Wisconsin Writers
Zona Gale Short Fiction Award

2016-2017

John Gurda
Council for Wisconsin Writers
Norbert Blei/August Derleth Nonfiction Book Award

Ronnie Hess
Council for Wisconsin Writers
Kay W. Levin Short Nonfiction Award

Karen Loeb
Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters
People & Ideas Poetry Contest Winner

Judith Claire Mitchell
Council for Wisconsin Writers
Edna Ferber Fiction Book Award

Gayle Rosengren
Council for Wisconsin Writers
Tofte/Wright Children’s Literature Award

Allison Slavick
Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters
People & Ideas Fiction Contest Winner

Ron Wallace
Council for Wisconsin Writers
Edna Meudt Poetry Book Award

John Walser
Council for Wisconsin Writers
Lorine Niedecker Poetry Award

2015-2016

Margaret Benbow
Council for Wisconsin Writers
Zona Gale Short Fiction Award

Chloe Krug Benjamin
Council for Wisconsin Writers
Edna Ferber Fiction Book Award

Bridget Birdsall
Council for Wisconsin Writers
Tofte/Wright Children’s Literature Award

Sean Bishop
Council for Wisconsin Writers
Edna Meudt Poetry Book Award

Kimberly Blaeser
Wisconsin Poet Laureate

Cathryn Cofell
Council for Wisconsin Writers
Lorine Niedecker Poetry Award

John Hildebrand
Council for Wisconsin Writers
Norbert Blei/August Derleth Nonfiction Book Award

Catherine Jagoe
Council for Wisconsin Writers
Kay W. Levin Short Nonfiction Award

Nikki Kallio
Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters
People & Ideas Fiction Contest Winner

Lisa Vihos
Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters
People & Ideas Poetry Contest Winner

2014-2015

A.M. Bostwick
Council for Wisconsin Writers
Tofte/Wright Children’s Literature Award

Max Garland
Wisconsin Poet Laureate

B.J. Hollars
Council for Wisconsin Writers
Norbert Blei/August Derleth Nonfiction Book Award

Amaud Jamal Johnson
Council for Wisconsin Writers
Edna Meudt Poetry Book Award

Dion Kempthorne
Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters
People & Ideas Poetry Contest Winner

Jesse Lee Kercheval
Council for Wisconsin Writers
Edna Ferber Fiction Book Award

Jeanie Tomasko
Council for Wisconsin Writers
Lorine Niedecker Poetry Award

Craig Reinbold
Council for Wisconsin Writers
Kay W. Levin Short Nonfiction Award

2013-2014

Shauna Singh Baldwin
Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters
People & Ideas Fiction Contest Winner

Sarah Busse
Council for Wisconsin Writers
Lorine Niedecker Poetry Award

Richard E. Carter
Council for Wisconsin Writers
Ellis/Henderson Outdoor Writing Award

Lydia Conklin
Council for Wisconsin Writers
Zona Gale Short Fiction Award

Paula Daíl
Council for Wisconsin Writers
Kingery/Derleth Book-length Nonfiction Award

Bruce Dethlefsen
Wisconsin Poet Laureate

C X Dillihunt
Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters
People & Ideas Poetry Contest Winner

Kathleen Ernst
Council for Wisconsin Writers
Edna Ferber Fiction Book Award

Adam Fell
Council for Wisconsin Writers
Edna Meudt Poetry Book Award

Mary Ellen Gabriel
Council for Wisconsin Writers
Kay W. Levin Short Nonfiction Award

Janet Halfmann
Council for Wisconsin Writers
Tofte/Wright Children’s Literature Award

David McGlynn
Council for Wisconsin Writers
Norbert Blei/August Derleth Nonfiction Book Award

Jill Stukenberg
Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters
People & Ideas Fiction Contest Winner

2012-2013

Bruce Dethlefsen
Wisconsin Poet Laureate

Krista Eastman
Council for Wisconsin Writers
Kay W. Levin Short Nonfiction Book Award

Jacqueline Houtman
Council for Wisconsin Writers
Tofte/Wright Children’s Literature Award

Amy Lou Jenkins
Council for Wisconsin Writers
Ellis/Henderson Outdoor Writing Award

David Krump
Council for Wisconsin Writers
Lorine Niedecker Poetry Award

Allison Slavick
Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters
People & Ideas Short Story Contest Winner