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27th Annual NEMBA

Thursday, May 21, 2015


In 2015, the Library worked in collaboration with Friends of the Duluth Public Library and Lake Superior Writers to celebrate the 27th Anniversary of the Northeastern Minnesota Book Awards (NEMBA) on May 21, 2015.

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, Jim Johnson, the 2014-2016 Poet Laureate of Duluth, Minnesota.

This event was free and open to the public.

Nominations were evaluated in each of six categories: (1) Fiction, (2) Poetry, (3) General Nonfiction,  (4) Children's Literature, or (5) Memoir and Creative Nonfiction, (6) Art, Photography. 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 teams:

sins of our fathers
Sins of Our Fathers

Winner in Fiction:

Sins of Our Fathers

written by Shawn Lawrence Otto
published by Milkweed Editions

The plot centers on a small town banker who has been caught embezzling funds to support his gambling addiction. He is forced to spy on an Ojibwe leader who wants to open a competing bank on the reservation. What ensues is manipulation and sabotage, mentoring and friendship, betrayal and rescue.  



A river through two harbors
A River Through Two Harbors

Honorable Mention in Fiction:

A River Through Two Harbors

by Dennis Herschbach
published by North Star Press of St. Cloud, Inc.

Based on real contemporary issues, this thriller investigates a sex trafficking ring that traps young Native girls and sells them through the port of Duluth. The investigators struggle with balancing their personal and professional lives with the emerging atrocities and needs of the investigation.




Approaching the gate
Approaching the Gate

Winner in Poetry:

Approaching the Gate

by Lynette Reini-Grandell
published by Holy Cow! Press

The reader might approach the poet's gate, or move through it into honest images of life's complexities, reliving seasons and recollections of northeastern Minnesota. On every page, she invites us to "continue."



night train
Night Train Red Dust

Honorable Mention in Poetry:

Night Train Red Dust: Poems of the Iron Range

by Sheila Packa
published by Wildwood River Press

Sheila Packa's newest collection of poetry is filled with three-dimensional images of the variety and complexity of life on Minnesota's Iron Range during the middle years of the twentieth century. Like the iron itself, these poems "bleed with rust and come with their own rules."


Twin Ports By Trolley
Twin Ports by Trolley

Winner in General Nonfiction

Twin Ports by Trolley: The Streetcar Era in Duluth-Superior

by Aaron Isaacs
published by University of Minnesota Press

For almost six decades, streetcars on rails moved people and cargo in Duluth and Superior. This book chronicles this period of rapid change and some of the more spectacular stories involving electric trolleys. Good writing is matched by a wealth of information and well-selected photos in this attractive volume.

sawdust in their blood
Sawdust in Their Blood

Honorable Mention in General Nonfiction

Sawdust in Their Blood

by Jim Boyd
published by North Shore Press

At first glance, Sawdust in Their Blood is a simple chronicle of one family - pioneers of the region's lumber industry, from one of the few lumber operations of that era that is still active today. But in the stories of this one family, we come to understand what life was like for many who worked in the days when lumber was king.



Rhoda's rock hunt
Rhoda's Rock Hunt

Winner in Children's Literature

Rhoda's Rock Hunt

written Molly Beth Griffin, illustrated by Jennifer A. Bell
published by Minnesota Historical Society Press

This beautifully illustrated book is relatable and engaging. The author has captured the sound and feel of camping and the joy of rock collecting as well as the resultant heavy backpack.



wilder's foe
Wilder's Foe

Honorable Mention in Children's Literature

Wilder's Foe

by Diane Bradley
published by North Star Press of St. Cloud, Inc.

This book is a vividly written, old-fashioned summer adventure story with just enough danger to enterain the reader. The book has all the good stuff: exciting adventures, strong characters, mystery, surprising twists, and just enough regional history and environmental information to enrich the story.


Rooted in Iron and ICe
Rooted in Iron and Ice

Winner in Memoir and Creative Nonfiction

Rooted in Iron and Ice: Innocent Years on the Mesabi

by Gary W. Barfknecht
published by North Star Press of St. Cloud, Inc.

The iron-rich soil that brought industry, jobs and families to the Iron Range town of Virginia, Minnesota, created a unique culture for a young boy during the baby boom years. Whole towns would move to follow the mines, and families would adjust on a regular basis to the changing economics, brutally hard work, frigid winters and isolation. But the people thrived and proved to foster strong, loyal and colorful communities with hybrid customs and a language of their own.



zenith city
Zenith City

Honorable Mention in Memoir and Creative Nonfiction

Zenith City: Stories from Duluth

by Michael Fedo
published by University of Minnesota Press

Duluth experienced a bleak economic stretch in the 1950s and 1960s, one that provided little hope for the population, particularly the youth in the community as they graduated and looked for jobs. This series of recollections depicts the mood of the times while highlighting some significant character-building events in the author's life.


Saved by Beauty
Saved by Beauty

Winner in Art, Photography

Saved by Beauty: Sister Mary Charles McGough, OSB

by John Schifsky, Sister Lois Eckes, Peter Spooner, Dustin Lyon and Meridith Schifsky
published by Duluth Benedictine Books

Born in Cloquet, Minnesota, Sister Mary Charles grew into a life of creating art and community in many forms, but she is primarily know for her skillful woodcuts and Christian icons. She dedicated her life to a minsitry of creating, educating and sharing with others, especially youth, what it means to experience and appreciate the beauty that exists all around and within ourselves.



the other side of wilderness
The Other Side of Wilderness

Honorable Mention in Art, Photography

The Other Side of Wilderness

by Richard C. Johnson
published by Will o' the Wisp Books

This is a collection of black and white photographs about people leaving their mark on the land. The photographs capture abandoned shops/restaurants or desolate sites that show evidence of past human habitation and are carefully balanced in composition, offering haunting nostalgia.



winner seal  honorable mention book seal 
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

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