Shake Rag Alley Center for the Arts

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 December 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 workshops, readings, and/or community outreach activities, including Wednesday evening Winter Writers Reading Series author talks and discussions.

This year we are pleased to welcome back Wisconsin People & Ideas writing contest winners from the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Letters, as well as The Jade Ring Writing Contest winners from our newest partner agency, the Wisconsin Writers Association.

Unfortunately, the Council for Wisconsin Writers contest was postponed in 2021 due to pandemic concerns. We look forward to welcoming CWW writers during next year’s reading series.

2021-22 readings and discussions offered virtually via Zoom.
Please supply an email at registration using the buttons (coming soon) below.

About the Council for Wisconsin Writers

CWW is a non-profit membership organization dedicated to promoting local, state, and national awareness of Wisconsin’s great literary heritage and to encouraging excellence among Wisconsin writers today. Founded in 1964, the CWW is operated entirely by volunteer writers, editor, publishers, book sellers, and other supporters who serve on its board of directors. Learn more at wiswriters.org.

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.

2021-22 Writers-in-Residence Readings

January 12

Jennifer fandel

Wisconsin People & Ideas
1st Place Poetry Award

Jennifer Fandel is the first-place winner of the Wisconsin People & Ideas 2021 Poetry Contest. Her poetry is forthcoming or has been published in The American Journal of PoetryGinger, Measure, The Baltimore Review, and RHINO, as well as a number of anthologies including Hope Is the Thing: Wisconsinites on Hope and Resilience in the Time of Covid-19 (Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2021). Fandel’s other published work includes book reviews and nonfiction books for children and young adults. She teaches poetry at Oakhill Correctional Institution through the Wisconsin Prison Humanities Project and tutors students in writing at Oakhill through the Odyssey Beyond Bars college program. Fandel has also taught poetry classes in women’s shelters, parks & rec programs, and grade schools.

Jennifer Fandel’s prize-winning poem: “The Father” will be available online soon.
 
 

Judge’s Comments:

“The Father” is exceptional in its marriage of content and form. I admire how the author threads the figure of the dog (the “white mutt”) through the entire poem, turning it into an extended metaphor for the deceased (and once reticent) father’s foremost presence in the speaker’s mind, which is “dogged” by complicated feelings. … Such captivating similes and images, precise diction, and enjambment kept me eagerly plunging into each new line as I journeyed through the poem. 

Chris Fink

January 26

Owen Aibric

Wisconsin Writers Association
Jade Ring Fiction Winner

Through a long career of teaching and environmental justice activism, Owen Aibric has always treasured stories of place—be they nature reveries, biographies of environmentalists, fiction where the setting is a character or a driver of conflict, or Prof. John Gleeson’s UW-M Celtic Studies classes. He chooses to write short stories under the pseudonym Owen Aibric because 1) some stories are better told in fiction, 2) He needs to get out of his political-correctness, call-to-action mindset, to write creatively, and 3) He likes to claim his Irish American heritage, especially for the Holy Hill story.

Owen is the progeny of a journalist mother who gave him novels to read to get him through his teenage years. He is the product of great high school English teachers (Wausau) and literature profs at UW Madison, and a veteran of the Redbird and Red Oak writing networks.

Since retiring, he gardens, writes, and encourages Monarchs (the butterfly kind). He and his wife teach reading to grandchildren and great grandchildren, discover hiking trails in the Milwaukee area, and try to stay healthy and be of use.

Read Owen Aibric’s prize-winning story:

Tying the Knot with No End

Judge’s Comments:

There were so many incredibly strong pieces in contention for this year’s contest, but one in particular captivated me. Tying the Knot With No End, with its electric prose, immersive and vibrant setting, complex, finely-tuned characters, and expertly-layered subtext stayed with me long after I finished reading. As Abby and Zak teeter on the precipice of their relationship, the story takes on a sort of free-floating melancholy — a sense that choices not yet made are already being regretted. In doing so, it achieves that elusive effect Eudora Welty says is the prime objective of any great short story: to offer “some fresh approximation of human truth,” which it delivers in spades. 

Erin Cellelo

February 9

Allison Uselman 

Wisconsin People & Ideas
1st Place Fiction Award

Allison Uselman is the first-place winner of the Wisconsin People & Ideas 2021 Fiction Contest. She was born, raised, and currently lives in Madison. Uselman attended Augsburg University in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she graduated in 2019 with a degree in English and with a studio art minor. In her free time Uselman draws, bikes, watches M*A*S*H reruns, and snuggles her dog, George. She hopes to one day attend art school somewhere near the ocean, where she can continue drawing baby animals, wildflowers, and pouty self-portraits.

Alison Uselman’s prize-winning short story “The Honor Cord” will be available online soon.

Judge’s Comments:

“Honor Cord” is such a poignant and mysterious story, I started again from the beginning the moment I had finished. The imaginative young protagonist of this story lives in a cauldron of ambiguous images and stories. Everything happening in Violet Wells’ small town seems imbued with the weight of significance. “Honor Cord” honors and reveals the startling complexity of life, and its author skillfully entwines the reader in her character’s delicate intuition.

Brenda Cárdenas

February 16

Kathie Giorgio

Wisconsin Writers Association
Jade Ring Poetry Winner

Kathie Giorgio is the author of five novels, two story collections, a collection of essays, and two poetry chapbooks. A full-length poetry collection, No Matter Which Way You Look, There Is More To See, was released in 2020. She’s been nominated for the Pushcart Prize in fiction and poetry and awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award from the Wisconsin Library Association, the Silver Pen Award for Literary Excellence, the Pencraft Award for Literary Excellence, and the Eric Hoffer Award In Fiction. She is the director and founder of the international creative writing studio, AllWriters’ Workplace & Workshop LLC.

Read Kathie Giorgio’s prize-winning poem:
 
 
 

Judge’s Comments:

In its twenty-two short lines, this poem offers both breadth and depth in its approach to the topics that have been at the center of our national experience for over a year and a half. The poem captures the essence of this double struggle by juxtaposing two succinct lines:We can’t breathe, gasp the COVID victims. / I can’t breathe, gasps the black man.

February 23

Dasha Kelly Hamilton

Wisconsin Poet Laureate

Dasha Kelly Hamilton is a writer, performance artist and creative change agent, applying the creative process to facilitate dialogues around human and social wellness. She is the author of two novels, three poetry collections, four spoken word albums, and one collection of personal vignettes. She has taught at colleges, conferences, and classrooms and curated fellowships for emerging leaders. An Arts Envoy for the U.S. Embassy, Dasha has facilitated community building initiatives in Botswana, Toronto, Mauritius, and Beirut. Her touring production, Makin’ Cake, uniquely engages communities in a forward dialogue on race, class, and equity. Dasha is a national Rubinger Fellow and, concurrently, Poet Laureate for the City of Milwaukee and the State of Wisconsin.

March: MPSD Classroom

Lora Hyler

Wisconsin Writers Association
Jade Ring Nonfiction Winner

Lora Hyler is a past WWA Jade Ring winner and a former reporter for NPR affiliate, WUWM and ABC affiliate, WISN, both in Milwaukee, WI. She also worked for media and energy companies. In 2001, she founded her marketing company, Hyler Communications. She also worked in television for two years on NBC affiliate, Today’s TMJ4.

The Stupendous Adventures of Mighty Marty Hayes is the first in a three-part children’s middle grade series, traditionally published in 2018. The novel has received several awards from the international Eric Hoffer Book Awards, and the Best Book Awards. Book two is underway. Inspired by the Emory Global Health Institute competition, Lora created her new book, Our Bodies Stay Home, Our Imaginations Run Free to help children ages 6-10+ through the Coronavirus pandemic. Published by HenschelHAUS Publishing, the book has garnered national and international publicity.

Judge’s Comments:

This impeccably written essay opens with a strong pragmatic statement that includes the time, place, and societal situation. It would be difficult to find anyone who would not want to continue reading at this point. Not only does this essay explore a significant subject, it also allows the reader to perhaps learn something new – whether that be an example of the injustices against people of color at that time or learn of the courage of the white women who supported Mr. Hyler – or both. 

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