The Council for Wisconsin Writers’ mission — “to recognize and celebrate Wisconsin writers and to promote awareness of our state’s great literary heritage” — is highly and constantly gratifying. Recipients’ appreciation and gratitude makes it doubly so. Letters, such as two received recently from this year’s Major Achievement Award winner, Milwaukee historian John Gurda, and the Edna Meudt Poetry Book Award winner Catherine Jagoe highlight that.
With permission from John and Catherine, we are pleased to share their letters:
From John Gurda to Council for Wisconsin Writers President Geoff Gilpin:
I’ve already expressed my gratitude to (board member) Erik Richardson via email, but I thought I’d use this somewhat more formal channel to thank you and the CWW for this year’s Major Achievement Award. It’s obviously a career capstone, and one I find enormously satisfying. As I approach seventy, I’m amazed that I’ve been able to make a living as a Milwaukee historian for all these years–a job for which there were no posted openings. The CWW’s Achievement Award confirms my choice of careers and encourages me to keep moving into the future down the path of the past.
All the Best,
From Catherine Jagoe to Geoff Gilpin:
I would like to reiterate my heartfelt thanks to the Council for Wisconsin Writers for the Edna Meudt prize I was recently awarded for Bloodroot. I felt that I didn’t do justice at the award ceremony to the depth of my appreciation for the work that the Council does to celebrate and encourage Wisconsin writers. When Karla Huston called to tell me about the award I was so overcome, I actually wept.
This book was a very long time in the making — I had been revising and sending it to contests from almost ten years, and it had been a finalist or semi-finalist numerous times. The process of submitting a book manuscript is arduous and expensive and I had just about run out of hope. I decided I would send the manuscript to one last contest and then put it aside and move on. To my astonishment, it won that contest, the Settlement House American Poetry Prize.
Because the book explores my experience as a newcomer and foreigner, the nature of home and the process of uprooting and re-rooting in Wisconsin, it meant a very great deal to me that it won the CWW award. It allowed me to feel accepted in this community of writers instead of being a perpetual outsider. As another immigrant writer put it recently, it’s like getting a big hug from your adopted home.
The $500 and week’s residency will buy me some crucial time to start generating new work. So please thank all the board members again from me personally at your next meeting.
On behalf of Wisconsin writers, CWW again congratulates John and Catherine on their stellar work. More about these writers is at John’s website johngurda.com and Catherine’s website www.catherinejagoe.com.
More information about CWW, its annual contests and how to become a member is at wiswriters.org.