WITH JOY AND GRATITUDE, I share some particularly exciting news. Joy at the honor. Gratitude for the opportunity.
The book This Was 2020—Minnesotans Write About Pandemics and Social Justice in a Historic Year has garnered the 2021 Minnesota Author Project Award in the Communities Create category. That announcement came late last week at the annual Minnesota Library Association Conference.
My poem, “Funeral During a Pandemic,” is among 54 pieces of prose and poetry by 51 Minnesotans published in the collection. In my poem, I write about my experience attending my father-in-law’s funeral in a rural central Minnesota church during the pandemic. To have that poem selected for inclusion reveals just one aspect of how COVID-19 has affected all of us.
As Paul Lai, Ramsey County librarian and lead on this book project states, This Was 2020 “…highlights the voices of people in Minnesota as they remember a difficult year.” And those voices come from across the state, most from the metro, but also from greater Minnesota. The writing, Lai notes, offers glimpses into our communities.
Judges for the award also sing the book’s praises, calling it “a beautiful anthology that memorialized a very difficult year in Minnesota.”
That assessment fits as writers penned pieces related to the pandemic and to social justice issues re-ignited by the murder of George Floyd with ensuing protests. I encourage you to read this book for the thought-provoking, and often emotional, content. (Click here to read an earlier review I posted on This Was 2020.)
“This book is one small way to help us all grieve, protest, imagine, co-create and empathize so that we build stronger connections rather than more walls between each other,” Lai says in a reflective video. I appreciate that comment, that encouraging insight. (To hear Lai’s comments, forward to around 10 minutes into the video.)
Lai has been so supportive of the writers published in this collection. In a congratulatory email to all of us, he termed our writing “powerful, thoughtful, heartfelt, creative and caring.” I value that appreciation.
The book award comes with a $1,000 cash prize, which will go to the Friends of the Ramsey County Libraries, official publisher of the print book. Those monies will support the library’s collections and programs. Additionally, the award provides access for the e-book version in the national Indie Author Project network and author spotlights promoting the book. More opportunities to be heard.
I feel such joy and gratitude. Joy at this accomplishment, not only for myself as a professional writer, but also for my fellow Minnesota writers. This state has incredible literary talent. And I feel gratitude for those who foster writing projects like This Was 2020 and for those who publicly recognize the value of voices expressed in writing.
FYI: To view This Was 2020 online, please click here. I encourage you also to purchase a print copy, perhaps from your favorite indie bookstore. Enjoy. And appreciate. And use what you read to build stronger connections rather than more walls.
You may also click here to see all of the book finalists/winners in the three Minnesota Author Project award categories.
Publication of This Was 2020 was made possible by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. It was edited by Ramsey County Library and published by Friends of the Ramsey County Libraries. The Minnesota Library Foundation and Biblio Labs sponsored the cash prizes.
© Copyright 2021 Audrey Kletscher Helbling
Well, what wonderful news to be included in this publication-congratulations-so exciting
Thank you, Sue. I appreciate your support of my work and of Minnesota writers in general.
Love love love! So happy that you were a part of this honor! Now off to buy a copy!
Thank you for your enthusiastic support of me and my writing and for following through by purchasing a copy of This Was 2020.
How exciting Audrey. Congratulations. I look forward to reading the book.
Thank you, Valerie. I’m excited to be part of this incredible publication, this historic record really.
Congratulations to you and all the writers and to the Ramsey County Library for the foresight to document the pandemic experiences from many viewpoints in Minnesota.
Thank you, Bernadette. Like you, I feel such appreciation for Paul Lai (and the Ramsey County Library) in getting this collection together and published.
So poignant. Well done, Audrey. I’m going to find a copy and purchase.
Thank you for your support and appreciation of my writing and that of other Minnesotans. I appreciate your enthusiasm and sharing in my joy.
ISBN# 9781087967622 to
Order from your independent bookstore!
Thank you, Ruth, for doing that homework and providing the ISBN#. And thank you for ordering. Yes, buy from your indie bookstore.
I’m on the phone with the reference librarian right now trying to purchase a copy.
How wonderful, Audrey! Well deserved, my friend. ❤
Thank you, dear Penny, for sharing in my excitement and joy.
Congratulations to you Audrey and your fellow poets!
Thank you, I appreciate your support of the Minnesota writers whose work (poetry AND prose) appears in This Was 2020.
Thank you! It’s good to hear from you.
Congratulations, Audrey! Important thoughtful minds give some accurate perspective other than just the numbers to this experience.
Thank you, Sandra. That’s important to note, that behind all the stats are real people and real stories and often heartbreaking experiences.
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