29th Annual NEMBA Winners

The 29th annual Northeastern Minnesota Book Awards were held on May 18, 2017. The Thursday evening festivities began with a book fair, wine/beer cash bar, and refreshment reception in the Kirby Ballroom from 5 to 6:30 p.m. and continued with the awards presentation at 6:30. The celebration's featured speaker was nature writer Larry Weber, author of 14 books, including Butterflies of the North WoodsSpiders of the North WoodsFascinating Fungi of the North Woods, and Backyard Almanac.

This event was free and open to the public.  View photos of the Book Fair and the Awards ceremony.

Nominations were evaluated in six categories: (1) Fiction, (2) Poetry, (3) Art, Photography, (4) Children's Literature, (5) Memoir, and (6) Nonfiction. Reading teams chose a winner and an honorable mention in each category. The winners each received a $200 cash prize. The winning author and the honorable mention received a beveled glass award as well as 100 NEMBA book seals.

NOTE: Nominations for the 30th NEMBA, honoring books published in 2017, will be accepted beginning November 1, 2017.

Listed below are the honorable mention and winners in each category with descriptions written by the reading teams:

Winner in Fiction

Wintering book cover

by Peter Geye
published by Alfred A. Knopf 

This beautifully written book centers on an epic father-son journey into the vast northern wilderness in the dead of winter, but also tells a bigger story—of a divided family, a town’s complicated history, and a feud that spans generations. Geye’s writing somehow evokes the peace of the northern wilderness while also providing a gripping plot that keeps the reader guessing until the end.


Honorable Mention in Fiction

The Tao of Nookomis Book Cover

The Tao of Nookomis

by Thomas D. Peacock
published by North Star Press of St. Cloud, Inc.

This beautiful collection of stories explores various aspects of Native American life on tribal lands bordering Lake Superior. Sad and touching, yet hopeful, the mostly modern day tales (with some mythical themes thrown in for good measure) weave together recurring characters and themes throughout the book to create a sort of tapestry of reservation life. The reader learns that we can be, and should seek out, the great teachers in our lives: family, elders, or life itself.


Winner in Poetry

The Sky Watched: Poems of Ojibwe Lives 
sky watched
sky watched book cover

by Linda LeGarde Grover
published by Red Mountain Press

Linda LeGarde Grover weaves together spiritual and personal stories in both Ojibwe and English. The intertwined accounts in narrative prose reflect the interconnectedness of the experiences; “a continuing song,” as LeGarde Grover states on the last page. These stories and the format in which LeGarde Grover tells them are gripping, and The Sky Watched is an important read for all who consider Northeast Minnesota home.



Honorable Mention in Poetry 
Meridian book cover


by Mark Maire
published by Codhill Press

Meridian is a poetic journey, encouraging readers to go within and to embrace the nuanced emotions and thoughts that we harbor. Maire leads readers into the mindful nature of marshes, rock cliffs, and blue skies. In a world that is chaotic, aggressive, and complicated, Meridian is our chance to pause mid-sentence and gaze at colors with amazement and quietness.



Winner in Art, Photography

Glensheen: The Official Guide to Duluth's Historic Congdon Estate 

by Tony Dierckins, photography by Dennis O'Hara 


published by Zenith City Press

Numerous current and historic photographs guide the reader on a detailed tour of Minnesota's most famous mansion and estate grounds. The book tells the story of the Congdon family and how Chester Congdon built the fortune that financed this grand home on Lake Superior s North Shore. The reading team members commented that all of them would like to have a copy of this book sitting on their coffee table. It beautifully represents a visitor’s experience at Glensheen and lets the visitor take a piece of Duluth home.

Honorable Mention in Art, Photography

In and Out of Context

by Tim White with excerpts from 21 Northland writers  

in and out of context

published by Tight Squeek Press 

In Tim White’s first published book of photographs, he collaborates with 21 local poets, songwriters, and prose artists, to pose the photographs and writings “in a mutual relation, like passers-by whose gazes meet.” Mr. White does a marvelous job of connecting Duluth writers and poets with photographs. The positioning of Northland writers with photographs of the region is unique.




Winner in Children's Literature

One North Star: A Counting Book

by Phyllis Root
illustrated by Betsy Bowen and Beckie Prange
published by University of Minnesota Press

One North Star

Through bog and marsh, along river and lake, across prairie and woods, readers learn what creatures live where by counting them on foot or in flight, swimming or perching or taking root in exquisite illustrations created by Beckie Prange and Betsy Bowen in an artistic collaboration. For those looking for more about the pictured wildlife, Phyllis Root includes fascinating facts and information on the state's ecosystems and the plants and animals that make their homes here. 


Honorable Mention in Children's Literature

Storm's Coming! 
storm's coming

by Margi Preus
illustrated by David Geister
published by Minnesota Historical Society Press

Take a step back in time and experience life at Split Rock Lighthouse through a child's eyes. Will Sophie reach Papa in time to alert him of the changing weather? And will the lighthouse be ready to guide nearby ships as the sky darkens and rain begins to fall?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 



Winner in Memoir

Homemade: Finnish Rye, Feed Sack Fashion, and Other Simple Ingredients
from My Life in Food 

by Beatrice Ojakangas
published by University of Minnesota Press

“Peaches” recounts stories of her life, in chapters paired with recipes that mark important events and relationships. She uses humor and acquired wisdom in describing her youth growing up as part of a rural Finnish community, her college days, and the origins of her successful career as a cook, author, and restauranteur. Marriage and family offered new cooking experiences and recipes. Her memoir describes a resourceful life filled with resilience and creativity.


Honorable Mention in Memoir

Contemplative paddler

The Contemplative Paddler's Fireside Companion

by Timothy McDonnell
published by North Star Press of St. Cloud, Inc.

This book will appeal to any paddler, wanderer, or dreamer with a love for the wild, particularly the canoe country of the Boundary Waters, Canada, and the Big Lake. Timothy McDonnell shares stories of his journeys and explorations with wonder, gratitude, and introspection.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Winner in Nonfiction

clever moose

What Should A Clever Moose Eat? Natural History, Ecology, and the North Woods

by John Pastor
published by Island Press

John Pastor offers a profound and intriguing conversation about the biological history of our unique area of the world. He paints vistas of the complexity of life in the woods, bogs, and lakes of Northern Minnesota, offering the experience of a biologist with the heart of a conservationist. Readers will discover a wonderful new appreciation for this wonderful biome we call home.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        


Honorable Mention in Nonfiction

Jay Cooke to Two Harbors

Jay Cooke State Park to Two Harbors: A Walking Guide to the Superior Hiking Trail

by Ron Morton and Judy Gibbs
published by Rockflower Press

A Walking Guide to the Superior Hiking Trail is the perfect companion for exploring the natural beauty and history of the North Shore. Gibbs and Morton employ a subtle wit, extensive knowledge of flora and fauna, and attention to detail that will delight day-trippers and through-hikers alike.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

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


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