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26th Annual NEMBA

Thursday, May 22, 2014


In 2014, the Library worked in collaboration with Friends of the Duluth Public Library and Lake Superior Writers to celebrate the 26th Anniversary of the Northeastern Minnesota Book Awards (NEMBA) on May 22, 2014.

The Thursday evening festivities began with a book fair and dessert reception in the Kirby Ballroom from 5-6:30 p.m. and continued with the awards presentation at 6:30. The celebration featured speaker, journalist and author Cathy Wurzer, host of Morning Edition for MPR news. "You writers are a gift to the Northland," Wurzer said. "Don't ever give up."

This event was free and open to the public.

Nominations were evaluated in each 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 $200 cash prize. The winning author and the honorable mention in each category received a beveled glass award as well as 100 NEMBA book seals.

Listed below are the honorable mention and winners in each category with descriptions by each category's reading team:

tamarack county
Tamarck County

Winner in Fiction:

Tamarack County

written by William Kent Krueger
published by Atria Books

As the continuing saga of Cork O’Connor unfolds in this stand-alone novel, we find him facing a series of strange occurrences. A former Sheriff and current PI, Cork is called upon to consult in the disappearance of a judge’s wife. When a dog is decapitated, Cork sees a pattern emerging, and wonders if these events could be connected. After his son Stephen is involved in a life-threatening accident, it piques Cork’s interest in a 20-year-old case.  



Timber: Fire in the Pines

Honorable Mention in Fiction:

Timber: Fire in the Pines

by A.L.Sanderson
published by Haven Publishing

Sarah’s future looks rosy; she has both a fortune and a fiancé. Unfortunately, her unscrupulous uncle steals the money, and her penniless future scares off her fiancé. Undaunted, Sarah travels to the last known whereabouts of her father—a lumber camp in the wilds of Minnesota. Disguised as a boy, she seeks employment as a cook’s helper and searches for the last remnants of her family. 




Bound Together

Bound Together: Like the Grasses

Winner in Poetry:

Bound Together: Like the Grasses

by Deborah Cooper, Candace Ginsberg, Ann Floreen Niedringhaus, Ellie Schoenfeld, Anne Simpson
published by Clover Valley Press

For sixteen years these five women ‘met monthly, sharing . . . each individual’s unique search for understanding, for a patch of ground to stand on in the wind.’ Through twelve focused sections, this collection of poetry sings of beauty, spiritual connection, and deep appreciation for the people, places, and spaces that hold us here in the Northland. These women know things; they are in touch with experience, and they have the writing discipline and finesse to bring northeastern Minnesota feelings right into the center of all who read their words. These are quiet poems, for the most part, about the love and loss and joy of everyday life, but these women speak this message bravely, fiercely, and exquisitely.



tin Flag
Tin Flag

Honorable Mention in Poetry:

Tin Flag: New and Selected Prose Poems

by Louis Jenkins
published by Will o' the Wisp Books

From simply stated observations to profound implications, Louis Jenkins has a range of expression widely accessible to Northland readers. He can write about the weather, ice fishing on Lake Superior (as well as smaller inland lakes), and weathered mail boxes along county highways, and help us understand why these observations deeply matter to us. His seemingly innocent way with concise word-smithing frequently blossoms into articulate insight, like peeling an orange while looking ‘out the window at the snow and the rough spruce trees . . . One taste and I know there is a world beyond my imagining. It’s impossible, like love, yet it really exists.’ This collection is like the rural mail box, raising a modest tin flag. “I have something. It isn’t much. I’d like you to take it."


the Pie Place
The Pie Place Cafe Cookbook

Winner in General Nonfiction

The Pie Place Cafe Cookbook:
Food & Stories Seasoned by the North Shore

by Kathy Rice
published by Lake Superior Port Cities, Inc.

The Pie Place Café Cookbook: Food and Stories Seasoned by the North Shore shows how food can pull a community together and teach us about what matters in life. Inside, readers will find mouthwatering recipes and pictures alongside vignettes that may have you packing up to move up the North Shore. This is a book of hope in which you will learn to laugh through your tears, take a chance on strangers, and lend a helping hand to a neighbor.

esko's corner
Esko's Corner

Honorable Mention in General Nonfiction

Esko's Corner:
An Illustrated History of Esko and Thomson Township

by Esko Historical Society
published by X-presso Books

Many people contributed to this “big book about a small place,” and each shared a small or large part of the history of Esko and Thomson township. From presettlement, through the story of the land, to settling days, to modern business, there is information about nearly every aspect of this small town that many only know from a road-sign on highway 35. The result, while specific to one area, provides an excellent look at small town life in northeastern Minnesota.



best part of a sauna
The Best Part of a Sauna

Winner in Children's Literature

The Best Part of a Sauna

written by Sheryl Peterson, illustrated by Kelly Dupre
published by Raven Productions, Inc.

Set in the woods of northeastern Minnesota, this is an appealing family story introducing a younger generation to an important Finnish tradition. The distinctive, colorful illustrations express a young child’s anticipation and delight in an evening’s activities shared with grandparents. If you want to know the best part of a sauna, you’ll have to read the book.



finding hope
Finding Hope

Honorable Mention in Children's Literature

Finding Hope

by Michelle Myers Lackner
published by Adventure Publications

Solid research and striking photographs depict the true and heartwarming story of Lilly and her cub, Hope. As bear cubs are prone to do, Hope finds herself lost in the woods. People from the North American Bear Center step in and reunite Hope with her mother.


threads of hope
Threads of Hope

Winner in Memoir and Creative Nonfiction

Threads of Hope:
Caring for Babies Across Three Continents

by Martha Andrea Aas, M.D.
published by Lakeberry Press

Martha Aas brought true Nordic determination and drive from her native Denmark to northern Minnesota when she began her practice as a pediatrician at St. Mary’s Hospital in 1973. At that time, it was difficult to be both a female physician and mother, yet with perseverance and heart, Dr. Aas also succeeded in founding the neonatal intensive care unit at what is now known as Essentia Health. Her memoir traces the development of standards of care of newborns that we now take for granted, humbly relating her own part in that history. Her career is bookended on one side by her childhood experiences as a member of a Lutheran missionary family serving in Africa and on the other by her return to Africa as a volunteer doctor in her retirement years. Her story is both local and universal as she tells about the difficult and often painful issues surrounding the care of infants and others whose quality of life is compromised by health issues.



the girl who sang to the buffalo
The Girl Who Sang to the Buffalo

Honorable Mention in Memoir and Creative Nonfiction

The Girl Who Sang to the Buffalo:
A Child, an Elder, and the Light from an Ancient Sky

by Kent Nerburn
published by New World Library

NEMBA Honorable Mention winner Kent Nerburn deserves this award for exquisitely articulating his relentless and eye-opening journey to help a friend. As a white man, he was allowed into Native American communities and culture to discover what happened to the sister of a respected Lakota elder many years ago. At turns painfully stark, dreamy, and funny, he poignantly tells a story of ghosts that linger throughout northern Minnesota and South Dakota. With heart and reverence, Nerburn honors the spirits of Native Americans who were robbed of their identity and illuminates the shadow of misunderstanding of Native American culture that exists to this day.


view photos

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


Presented by UMD's Kathryn A. Martin Library
416 Library Drive
Duluth, MN 55812

& Friends of the Duluth Public Library

in collaboration with The Lake Superior Writers

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