Prairie Schooner Celebrates 10 Years of its Book Prize Series

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Prairie Schooner, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s literary journal, will be hositing an event to celebrate the tenth anniversary of its annual Book Prize Series.  The celebration will be hosted on Thursday, April 4 from 7-9 p.m. at the UNL International Quilty Study Center located at 2523 N. 33rd Street in Lincoln. 

The celebration will feature introductory remarks by Hilda Raz and Peggy Shumaker, the founders of the Book Prize Series.  Karen Brown and Susan Blackwell Ramsey, the 2011 Book Prize winners will also present readings.  The event will include special performances by UNL’s Ceramics and Music Composition departments.  A reception with complementary wine and dessert will follow the event. 

The Prairie Schooner Book Prize is recognized as one of the premier prizes of its kind for both established and emerging writers.  Each year, Prairie Schooner accepts submissions of book length manuscripts of poetry and short story collections, offering a $3,000 prize to the winner in each genre, as well as publication with through the University of Nebraska Press. 

The event will begin with an introductions by Raz and Shumaker.  Raz, the editor of Prairie Schooner from 1970-2010, turned the prestigious literary journal into a financially viable enterprise with widespread distribution of regular quarterly issues.  Under Raz’s leadership, Prairie Schooner grew in prominence and stature within the literary community.  Shumaker, a poet and contributer to Prairie Schooner, worked in conjunction with Raz to establish the Book Prize Series, and has provided generous and necessary financial support.  Shumaker and her husband helped fund the prize with start-up money, and continue to donate annually.  Under the guidance and support of Raz and Schumaker, the Book Prize Series has become an annual staple with international acclaim and regard, with a longevity to match the journal’s famed 87-year history.

Both Ramsey and Brown will give readings of their award-winning poems and stories during the celebration. 

Ramsey is the winner of the 2011 Book Prize in Poetry, for her collection of poems titled A Mind Like This.  Ramsey is a Michigan Native, having received an MFA in Creative Writing from Notre Dame, and currently residing in Kalamazoo where she teaches at the Kalamazoo Institute.  Ramsey has been included in Best American Poets

An interpretation of Brown’s stories into a song performed by the UNL music composition department will precede her reading.  Brown is the winner of the 2011 Book Prize in Fiction.  Brown’s collection of short stories, Little Sinners and Other Stories is her second book.  Brown has been selected for inclusion in PEN/O.Henry Stories twice, and has also been included in Best American Short Stories.  She currently teaches at the University of South Florida.

Reflecting Prairie Schooner’s goal to promote creative work in a public venue, the event will feature artistic interpretations of Ramsey and Brown’s writing.  The UNL ceramics department will present ceramic works meant to represent Ramsey’s poetry, while the music composition department has written a song that will be performed as a tribute to Brown’s short stories.  This interdisciplinary presentation echoes the Prairie Schooner ethos to create and promote a supportive community for all of those involved in the creative arts. 

More information about past winners of the Prairie Schooner Book Prize Series can be found on Prairie Schooner’s website,  Books from previous winners and the recently published The Prairie Schooner Book Prize 10th Anniversary Reader are available for purchase on the University of Nebraska Press website at