Laura Lee Washburn is the Director of Creative Writing at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, and the author of This Good Warm Place: 10th Anniversary Expanded Edition (March Street), Watching the Contortionists (Palanquin Chapbook Prize), and The Book of Stolen Images (Meadowlark Press, 2023). Harbor Review’s chapbook prize is named in her honor, and she’s the president of Small Harbor Publishing’s Board of Directors. Her degrees are from Old Dominion University, where she interned for the Associated Writing Programs Newsletter, and Arizona State University. Born in Virginia Beach, Virginia, she has also lived and worked in Arizona and in Missouri. From her home in Pittsburg, Kansas, she edits The Coop: A Poetry Cooperative.
Judge was Joseph Harrington, who teaches at the University of Kansas. He is the author of Of Some Sky (BlazeVOX Books 2018); Goodnight Whoever’s Listening (Essay Press 2015); Things Come On (an amneoir)(Wesleyan UP 2011); and the critical work Poetry and the Public (Wesleyan UP 2002). His creative work has appeared in BAX: The Best American Experimental Writing 2016, Colorado Review, The Rumpus, Hotel America, Tupelo Quarterly, and elsewhere. From 2019-2023, he maintained a real-time verse-chronicle of the climate crisis, at The Poem of Our Climate and Writing Out of Time.
Nelson Poetry Book Award
by Cheryl Unruh
Note from the Judge:
Cheryl Unruh’s Gravedigger’s Daughter stands as a testament to how great writing uses particulars to capture the universal. While few readers may have helped to prepare graves as a child or know what the summer sky looks like from their depths, Unruh’s beautifully crafted reflections unearth the relatable joys and confusions of youth, love, and loss. While each poem preserves a carefully honed memory, the collection as a whole carries the reader through a lifetime with touching humor and heartbreaking grace. It is an intimate look into a specific family, but it stirs familiar emotions that have the magic to conjure readers’ own pasts.
Dr. Julia Galm
2022 Nelson Poetry Book Judge
Dr. Julia Galm is a Communications instructor at Cloud County Community College, where she works with budding writers to help them hone their skills and voices. She has helped to revitalize CCCC’s creative and artistic journal, The Silver Lining, and she is a board member of the Brown Grand Opera House. Though a recent transplant to Kansas, she has fallen in love with the rolling grasslands of her new home.
Finding Both Anchor and Sail
through Ekphrastic Writing
Whether you are new to ekphrasis or an old hand at it, the practice can offer both a concrete anchor to start a piece as well as a sail to push your writing in a new direction. Janice Northerns will read several ekphrastic poems from her award-winning collection Some Electric Hum and share tips to help you take ekphrastic writing to the next level. The discussion will be geared toward prose writers as well as poets.
Optional: Those who plan to attend are invited to write ahead of time a poem or flash prose piece responding to the painting “Four Sunflowers Gone to Seed” by Vincent Van Gogh (1887). You can view the painting at this museum link:
Join us via Zoom on Tuesday, April 12, 7:00pm
You must register in advance to attend this meeting.
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
Janice Northerns, of Liberal, is the author of Some Electric Hum, winner of the 2021 KAC Nelson Poetry Book Award, the KU Byron Caldwell Smith Book Award, and a WILLA Literary Award Finalist in Poetry. The author grew up on a farm in rural West Texas and holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Texas Tech University, where she received the Robert S. Newton Award for Creative Writing. Her work has been widely published in literary journals. Honors include a Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts residency, a Sewanee Writers’ Conference scholarship, and numerous awards for individual poems. Janice and her husband moved to Liberal in 1998, where she taught English at Seward County Community College before retiring in 2019 to write full-time. The landscapes and people of West Texas and southwest Kansas are a steady source of inspiration for her poetry.
“Some Electric Hum reads … like a treatise on the ways communities are crafted by wanting, having, and then letting go. … This book exemplifies her skill in giving language to those fragile and ephemeral experiences of connection, as well as her determination to understand how connection might be felt in the barely perceptible hum of a completed circuit, closed but still alive with alternating electric currents.”
— Dr. Sandra Cox, judge for the Nelson Poetry Book Award
Some Electric Hum
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