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22nd Annual NEMBA

Sunday, May 16, 2010


This year the Library worked in collaboration with the Lake Superior Writers in celebration of the 22nd Anniversary of NEMBA. This gala joint event began with a writing workshop on Saturday, May 15, and continued with a public celebration on Sunday, May 16.  The workshop, conducted by Beatrice Ojakangas, was coordinated by the Lake Superior Writers group.

The Sunday festivities began with a book fair and dessert reception in the Kirby Ballroom from 1:30 to 3 p.m. and continued with the awards presentation at 3:30. The awards presentation was emceed by Duluth's first poet laureate, Barton Sutter, and included featured speaker Beatrice Ojakangas. This event was free and open to the public.

Nominations were evaluated in one of five categories: (1) Fiction, (2) Poetry, (3) General Nonfiction,  (4) Children's Literature or (5) Memoir and Creative Nonfiction. 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 Fiction:

Minnesota Cold

written by Cynthia Kraack, published by North Star Press of St. Cloud

minnesota cold
Minnesota Cold


Set in the future, after a catastrophic global nuclear blast, this gripping story provides a glimpse of the dystopia of the post-blast Minnesota Territory and the resulting new totalitarian regime. The post nuclear society in which our heroine lives tweaks our fears of today’s issues: death panels, rationed medical care, human breeding farms, social control through technological monitoring, decreasing civil liberties, limited life choices, and a revisionist history for the benefit of the rich and powerful. The 70-year-old protagonist is a widow who is unwillingly pulled into revolutionary activities to put Minnesota back on a democratic track.







Honorable Mention in Fiction:

Big Noise: A Jo Spence Mystery

by Jen Wright, published by Clover Valley Press

big noise
Big Noise


A vacation in the Minnesota northwoods for lesbian partners turns into a frantic wilderness search for a missing client. They stumble on domestic sociopathy, a survivalist compound, multiple dead bodies, and a number of new friends. Beautiful scenery descriptions and excellent use of dialogue make the book a compelling page-turner.








Winner in Poetry:

The Dark Honey: New & Used Poems

by Ellie Schoenfeld, published by Clover Valley Press

dark honey

The Dark Honey


The luscious rhythms of these beautiful and skillfully crafted poems draw the reader in for an intimate glimpse of a complex and well-examined life in northeastern Minnesota. Looking, longing,  remembering, laughing, inventing, interviewing God, doing the laundry—the everyday stuff of northern life, and told so well it puts living here in a whole new light. Maybe we're not really so different from big-city dwellers—read all about it here, in The Dark Honey.









Honorable Mention in Poetry:

The Gravity of Flesh

by Jill Breckenridge, published by Nodin Press

gravity of flesh
The Gravity of Flesh


This well-organized collection of poems demonstrates Jill Breckenridge’s gift for creating poetry in an impressive variety of forms. Acute observation, brilliant imagery and incisive insight blend to honor life’s comedies and tragedies in sometimes delicate, sometimes forceful brushstrokes of inventive language. From a romp through the Minnesota State Fair to a journey through the Northern Lights, the author generously shares her “gift of song rising.”








Winner in General Nonfiction

Minong - The Good Place: Ojibwe and Isle Royale

by Timothy Cochrane, published by Michigan State University Press

Minong - The Good Place

Timothy Cochrane has written a history of the North Shore Ojibwe and their relationship with Isle Royale that is interesting and revelatory. Over a period of thirty years the author researched how, when, why and where the Ojibwe of the North Shore used Isle Royale, the place they called ‘Minong.’  He delved into and uncovered many old records from the Hudson’s Bay and the American Fur companies and early Jesuit priests and he also conducted interviews with tribal elders.  Most of the history of the Ojibwe and Isle Royale had been lost or forgotten since the arrival of immigrants to the North Shore in the late 1800’s.  Cochrane’s commitment to and passion about bringing the truth to light has allowed him to chronicle the relationship between the Ojibwe and ‘Minong’ and in so doing has prevented this important story from disappearing forever.



Honorable Mention in General Nonfiction

61 Gems on Highway 61

by Kathryn Mayo and William Mayo, published by Adventure Publications

61 gems
61 Gems on Highway 61


A great adoration and respect for Lake Superior and Northeastern Minnesota underlies the information shared in 61 Gems on Highway 61 by Kathryn Mayo and William Mayo. The introduction includes fabulous ‘locals’ advice (always bring a sweater up the shore; respect Lake Superior’s cliffs, riptides and undertows and stay safe; DON’T SWERVE to avoid hitting animals on the road). The 61 ‘gems’ include natural places to explore, objects to observe, places to eat and stay, and museums and heritage centers where interested travelers can learn more. The history and additional information provided about each ‘gem’ are what make this book shine. Travelers interested in learning more about the world in which they find themselves yearn for the kind of context and information this book provides about many of Northeastern Minnesota’s ‘gems.’




Winner in Children's Literature


by William Durbin, published by Raven Publications



William Durbin has written a great adventure story about an era which we do not often see described in books of fiction. It is fast-paced and compelling, making you want to keep reading right to the last page. It can stand alone but flawlessly continues the story in Durbin’s previous book, Broken Blade. The characters are realistically fleshed out and believable, including the main character about whom you would like to know more, creating a good read for teens and adults as well.  






Honorable Mention in Children's Literature

Manoomin: A Wild Rice Adventure

by Joshua Whitebird, published by IGI Publising

Manoomin: A Wild Rice Adventure


There are two stories going on in this book, how wild rice is harvested and what the traditions are which govern the activity, and another story that leaves the reader smiling and sometimes laughing out loud. The muskrats provide a rollicking counterpoint to the serious work going on. This is a children’s book with a strong appeal for adults as well. There is an easy-going invitation to learn words in the Ojibwa language as well as concepts in culture and legend.







Winner in Memoir and Creative Nonfiction

Knife Island: Circling a Year in a Herring Skiff

by Stephen Dahl, published by Nodin Press

knife island
Knife Island


A wonderful, almost poetic diary of year in the life of a herring fisherman at Knife Island, this book is full of reflections and photos about fishing, nature, the people he meets and the history of the area.  The author's well written prose brings the reader along on an 18 foot skiff to feel the lake air, hear his thoughts and to share his immense joy in his work.









Honorable Mention in Memoir and Creative Nonfiction

Chaos and Grit: Barbless Bits & Little Chits

by Phyllis Burgess, published by Singing River Publications

Chaos and Grit


This is a collection of the author’s favorite columns for Tower News, which she ran with her husband Jim. It wonderfully illustrates both the funny and somber side of small town life on the Iron Range for nearly 60 years. It was written as a tribute to her late husband and to a life she has clearly loved.





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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