Literature 7-14-2009

About our 2009 What Light/mnLIT judges

Read more about our esteemed panel of What Light Poetry Project jurors for the 2009 cycle of's mnLIT competition and publication project: Dobby Gibson, Deborah Keenan, Leslie Adrienne Miller, Joyce Sidman, and Connie Wanek.

mnLIT--What Light Poetry Project and miniStories flash fiction competition
What Light juror, Dobby Gibson
What Light juror, Deborah Keenan
What Light juror, Leslie Adrienne Miller
What Light juror, Joyce Sidman
What Light juror, Connie Wanek

Our judges for the 2009 cycle of What Light Poetry Project-Dobby Gibson, Deborah Keenan, Leslie Adrienne Miller, Joyce Sidman, and Connie Wanek-selected 20 winning poems to be posted, one poem every other week through April 2010, online at and This year’s winning poets were selected from a pool of several hundred submissions by Minnesota writers to’s 2009 mnLIT/What Light competition.

The full list of 2009 mnLIT winners, in both poetry (What Light) and flash fiction (miniStories) is available here.

About our 2009 What Light jurors:

Dobby Gibson is the author of Polar (Alice James Books), which won the 2004 Beatrice Hawley Award, and Skirmish (Graywolf Press). The recipient of fellowships from the Jerome Foundation and McKnight Foundation, he currently serves on the board of directors of the Loft Literary Center. He lives in Minneapolis. You can read much more about Gibson, his poetry, and various and sundry other projects by visiting his website,

Deborah Keenan is the author of the Minnesota Book Award-winning collection, Willow Room, Green Door: New and Selected Poems. Her previous books of poetry include Good Heart, Happiness, and Kingdoms. She is also the co-editor, with Roseann Lloyd, of Looking for Home: Women Writing About Exile, winner of the American Book Award in 1991. Keenan has received two Bush Foundation Fellowships, an NEA Fellowship, and the Loft-McKnight Poet of Distinction Award. She has four children, and is a professor and faculty advisor in the Graduate Liberal Studies School at Hamline University.

Leslie Adrienne Miller is author of five books of poetry, The Resurrection Trade and Eat Quite Everything You See from Graywolf Press, and Yesterday Had a Man in It, Ungodliness, and Staying Up For Love from Carnegie Mellon University Press. Professor of English at the University of Saint Thomas, in Saint Paul, Minnesota, she holds a Ph.D. from the University of Houston, an M.F.A. from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, an M.A. from the University of Missouri, and a B.A. from Stephens College.

Joyce Sidman has been part of the Twin Cities writing community for over fifteen years. A writer-in-residence with the COMPAS/WAITS Arts Organization of St. Paul, she teaches poetry writing in classrooms all over the metro area. She also participates in many national poetry events, including the annual “Poetry Blast” at the American Library Association meeting, and was recently commissioned to write a poem to celebrate the opening of the new Wayzata Library. Joyce has published eight books for young people, including Song of the Water Boatman and Other Pond Poems (Houghton Mifflin 2005), which won a Caldecott Honor Award and a Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award. This Is Just to Say: Poems of Apology and Forgiveness (Houghton Mifflin 2007), was the winner of the 2008 Claudia Lewis Poetry Award from the Bank Street College of New York. Her adult chapbook Like the Air (Finishing Line Press, 1999) won a New Women’s Voices award. Her newest book is Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors (Houghton, 2009). A native New Englander, Joyce holds a B.A. from Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, where she studied with former poet-laureate Richard Wilbur. She now lives in Wayzata with her husband. For more information, visit her website,

About her craft, Sidman writes, “As a poet, I try to drink in the world through all five senses, ponder it, and pour it out again in words. This is how I make sense of things. My latest book of children’s poetry, Red Sings from Treetops, is an attempt to capture the joy of color through the seasons. Good poetry uses our interaction with the world-moments of sight, touch, smell-as a springboard for deeper understanding; it makes us look more closely. I hope that my books will inspire readers to go for long walks outside with sharpened perception, then come home and try to find out more about what they’ve experienced.”

Connie Wanek is the author of two books of poems, Bonfire (1997) and Hartley Field (2002).  Her third book, On Speaking Terms, is forthcoming in late 2009 from Copper Canyon Press. She was also co-editor of To Sing Along the Way: Minnesota Women Poets from Territorial Days to the Present (2006), the first comprehensive, historical anthology of its kind. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic Montly, Poetry, The Virginia Quarterly Review, Water-Stone, and many other literary journals. Then US Poet Laureate Ted Kooser named her a 2006 Witter Bynner Fellow of the Library of Congress. Most recently she was named the 2009 George Morrison Artist of the Year, an award bestowed upon northern Minnesotans for distinguished work over a period of many years. She lives in the country outside Duluth.


In addition to these fine folks Chris Walters and Jay Peterson of Magers and Quinn served as our jury foremen for the 2009 cycle of What Light. Not only did they coordinate the nuts and bolts of the adjudication process, these gentlemen pored through the winning pool of 20 poets to select our three grand prize-winners for this round of What Light. is a joint project of the Walker Art Center and the McKnight Foundation

Membership on is FREE. Find step-by-step instructions for how to join and how to use the free resources available on the site. If you need assistance, contact Will Lager at Any Minnesota resident is eligible to participate in’s mnLIT competitions for poetry and fiction; there are no entry fees, and all levels of skill and experience are welcome to enter work for consideration by a revolving panel of established authors and publishing professionals in mnLIT’s blind adjudication process.