2022 NEMBA Award Winners

We are pleased to announce the Winners and Honorable Mention NEMBA Awards for books published in 2020 and 2021.

Nominations were accepted in six categories: (1) Fiction, (2) Poetry, (3) Art/Photography, (4) Children’s Literature, (5) Memoir, and (6) Nonfiction. With only one nominee in Art/Photography, that book was included in the Nonfiction category. Reading teams chose a winner and an honorable mention in each of the remaining categories. The winners will each received a $200 cash prize. The winning author and the honorable mention will receive a beveled glass award as well as 100 NEMBA book seals.

NOTE: Nominations for the 2023 NEMBA, honoring books published in 2022, will be accepted beginning February 1, 2023.

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

Winner in Fiction

Carnival Lights

by Chris Stark
published by Modern History Press

Protagonists and cousins Kris and Sher complete a harrowing journey from their home on the reservation in Northern Minnesota to Minneapolis and the State Fair. Along their journey, Kris and Sher confront a world eager to silence them as it uses their bodies to project cultural fears and myths.

Honorable Mention in Fiction

The Wolf’s Trail

by Thomas D Peacock
published by Holy Cow Press

“Out of nothing the Creator made rock, water, fire and wind.” So begins the history of the Anishinaabeg Ojibwe and the Wolf, who is the “shadow dance partner of humans,” according to our wolf narrator, Zhi-shay (Uncle): The pair cannot exist without the other.

Winner in Poetry

Roze and Blud

by Jayson Iwen
published by University of Arkansas Press

Using haunting, sometimes jarring, juxtapositions of images and stories set in western Duluth and Superior, Iwen presents the working-class lives of an old man and a young woman in an interwoven narrative that echoes back and forth across the St. Louis Bay. The two protagonists never meet, yet their experiences and histories mesh in unexpected and sometimes transcendent ways against a backdrop of urban decay surrounded by the austere beauty of Lake Superior.

Honorable mention in Poetry


by Peggy Trojan
published by Kindle Direct Publishing

Poems that are simply and plainly articulated, and deeply touching and satisfying in their descriptions of a man’s life and times. The collection begins “[m]y father never gets the hang of being dead,” then proceeds to demonstrate that proposition through poems based on memories of places, people, and every-day objects that helped shape and define him as an individual. In so doing, the writer shares her profound respect and appreciation for work, family, and the land.

Winner in Nonfiction

Duluth: An Urban Biography

by Tony Dierckins
published by Minnesota Historical Society Press

Tony Dierckins continues to bring Duluth’s history to life through photos and research from the 1850s to the 2020s.

Honorable Mention in Nonfiction

Gichigami Hearts: Stories and Histories from Misaabekong

by Linda LeGarde Grover
published by University of Minnesota Press

Linda LeGarde Grover weaves poetry, history, legends and family stories into an engrossing narrative that is a tribute to the Ojibwe people and to Misaabekong, Point of Rocks here in Duluth.

Winner in Memoir

The View From Split Rock: A Lighthouse Keeper’s Life

by Lee Radzak with Curt Brown
published by Minnesota Historical Society Press

The View from Split Rock provides a shining example of how a unique natural landscape and its associated responsibilities can shape the character of individuals.

Honorable Mention in Memoir

A Private Wilderness: The Journals of Sigurd F. Olson

by Sigurd F. Olson (deceased), edited by David Backes
published by University of Minnesota Press

Backes gathers journal entries of Olson from the 30’s and 40’s , providing his in sight of Olson and his work in preserving and protecting Northern Minnesota.

Winner in Children’s Literature

The Fire

by Thomas D Peacock, author; Anna Granholm, illustrator
published by Black Bears and Blueberries Publishing

During the great Fire of 1918, Ojibwe families survived by taking refuge in the river. This thrilling story is told through a grandmother’s memories and beautifully layered digital illustrations.

Honorable Mention in Children’s Literature


by Kathy Groth
published by Lake Superior Press

Whether read cover-to-cover or delved into for specific information, this comprehensive resource on shipwrecks of Lake Superior has so much to offer readers of all ages. Beautifully illustrated and meticulously crafted, this is an excellent addition to personal, classroom, and school libraries.

NEMBA book seals

The NEMBA Awards are presented by Lake Superior Writers.