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View photos of last year's event!

20th Annual NEMBA

Sunday, May 18, 2008


This year the Library worked in collaboration with the Lake Superior Writers in celebration of the 20th Anniversary of NEMBA. This gala joint event began with a writing workshop on Saturday, May 17, and continued with a public celebration on Sunday, May 18.  The workshop, conducted by Bill Holm, was coordinated by the Lake Superior Writers group.

The Sunday festivities began with an expanded book fair and dessert reception in the Tweed Museum of Art from 12:30 to 3 p.m. and continued with the awards presentation at 3:30 in the Weber Music Hall. The awards presentation was emceed by Duluth's first poet laureate, Barton Sutter, and included featured speaker Bill Holm. This event was free and open to the public.

Nominations were evaluated in one of four categories: (1) Nonfiction, Memoir, (2) Fiction, Poetry, Drama, (3) Art, Photography, or (4) Children's Literature. Reading Teams chose a winner and honorable mention in each category. The winner in each category received a $300 cash prize.  The winning author and the honorable mention in each category received a beveled glass award.


Winner in Nonfiction, Memoir:

Morgan Park: Duluth, U.S. Steel, and the Forging of a Company Town

written by Arnold R. Alanen, published by University of Minnesota Press

morgan park
Morgan Park


This engaging book details the history of both Duluth's U.S. Steel Plant and Morgan Park, which was built as a company town. Many photographs and diagrams illustrate the buildings and organization of the town, now a signature Duluth neighborhood.  The reading committee wrote, "We found the book to be thoroughly researched and very well written."  The author, a native of northeastern Minnesota who attended UMD, documents a fascinating chapter of Duluth's history.





Honorable Mention in Nonfiction, Memoir:

Skiing the North Shore: A Guide to Cross Country Trails in Minnesota's Spectacular Lake Superior Region

by Andrew Slade, published by There and Back Books

skiing the north shore
Skiing the North Shore


An excellent guide to 35 groomed cross-country ski trails along the Lake Superior Shore, this volume stands out in its concise and vivid presentation. A wealth of information for the trails includes directions, maps, difficulty ratings, fees, lodging, and links to other resources.  The format is highly portable, well illustrated, and easy to read, as the author shares his obvious delight in this quintessential northeastern Minnesota activity.







Winner in Fiction, Poetry, Drama:

Thunder Bay: A Cork O'Connor Mystery

by William Kent Krueger, published by Atria Books

Thunder Bay
Thunder Bay


William Kent Krueger does it again! This well-crafted story proves the author's continuing growth as a writer of fiction. In the novel, an Anishinabe elder enlists the help of his friend, retired sheriff Cork O'Connor, to find a son he has never known. O'Connor's own life is full of complex conflict while he takes a risky journey across the border to help his friend.

The Fiction/Poetry/Drama reading team liked these characters. They wrote, "We appreciated their imperfect humanity and were fascinated by the calm telling of their history, which was later balanced with high-paced action."




Honorable Mention in Fiction, Poetry, Drama:

The Mother Tongue

by Sheila Packa, published by Calyx Press

Mother Tongue
The Mother Tongue


This beautiful three-part collection of poems includes 28 erotic poems, which sweep the reader up by surprise. These are interspersed with Packa's reflections about growing up as the daughter of a Finnish mother while living in the economically stressed region of the Iron Range.  While these are personal explorations of identity and mother/daughter relationships, the reader travels along easily and willingly for the bumpy ride.








Winner in Art, Photography

Celebrating Birch: The Lore, Art, and Craft of an Ancient Tree

by North House Folk School, published by Fox Chapel Publishing

celebrating birch
Celebrating Birch


This book is written with love and respect by the artists who collaborated on its creation. It is an informative and educational book on birch, including an accessible blend of diverse information.  Uniformly well written, this winning title bestows a beautiful gift to the reader—an in-depth understanding of the birch tree and its uses.

Celebrating Birch is a book that presents itself to all levels: a manual for the craftsperson and for the novice, for the reader both locally and internationally. This book has variety and surprising scope.



Honorable Mention in Art, Photography

We Are At Home: Pictures of the Ojibwe People

by Bruce White, published by Minnesota Historical Society Press

We are at home
We Are at Home


An important historic compilation of photographs of the Ojibwe people, We Are at Home gives the reader an immersion into the cultural interplay of white and Indian societies. This book also presents extremely valuable data about how the technology of photography was used to record the Ojibwe experience as it was carefully documented by participants in front of and behind the camera.






Winner in Children's Literature

Agate: What Good is a Moose?

by Joy Morgan Dey, illustrated by Nikki Johnson, published by Lake Superior Port Cities


This is the story of Agate, a moose who feels like "a big, brown mistake" while he sees all of the other animals as fabulous colorful gems. Through the love and wisdom of his friends, Agate comes to realize the wonderful, beautiful treasure that is within everyone and—especially—he discovers his own inner beauty and how nature has created in him an incredible work of art...a true gem, as well.

This book presents a simple, positive message with beautiful, colorful watercolor illustrations. This book holds delightful information for the young and an insightful message for us all.





Honorable Mention in Children's Literature

Storm Codes

by Tracy Nelson Maurer, illustrated by Christina Rodriguez, published by Windward Publishing, an Imprint of Finney Company

storm codes
Storm Codes

During a fierce ice storm, Katy and her mother become anxious about the safety of Katy's father, who is captain of a ship crossing the Great Lakes, heading for his home port in Duluth.

The reading team was impressed that Storm Codes presents historically based and well-researched facts and information with vivid and correct illustrations. The book is based on the real-life sailing experiences of Captain Harvey C. Almstedt, who skippered the Edward B. Greene of the Cleveland Cliffs fleet.


View photos of last year's event!


winner seal  honorable mention book seal 
New NEMBA Book Seals now available!


Presented by the Library
416 Library Drive
Duluth, MN 55812

& Friends of the Duluth Public Library

in collaboration with The Lake Superior Writers

with additional support from Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Northern Lights Books & Gifts, and UMD Stores