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Group in Mabee Library attending KS Book Award Event

Kansas Book Award

Hefner Heitz Kansas Book Award

Congratulations to Patricia Traxler, winner of the 2019 Hefner Heitz Kansas Book Award in Poetry! The 2019 award ceremony will be held in Mabee Library on Tuesday, March 5th at 4:00 p.m.

Patricia Traxler was born and raised in California, and in 1980 moved to Kansas, where the three generations of the Traxler family before her had homesteaded and farmed in the Waterville area. Since that time she has lived in Salina, where she has taught creative writing and worked as a poet in the community.  She is an award-winning poet, essayist, and fiction writer, and the author of four poetry collections: Naming the Fires (Hanging Loose Press, Forbidden Words (University of Missouri); Blood Calendar (William Morrow); The Glass Woman (Hanging Loose Press); and a novel, Blood (St. Martin's/Macmillan).

Judge Steven Hind's thoughts on this year's winner:

“In a heightened and memorable language Patricia Traxler’s work performs the ecstasies and terrors of a life experience deeply lived and vigilantly observed. Her skills and her wit are richly exhibited. During my re-readings of her collection, a Robert Frost phrase came to mind: she has ‘a lover's quarrel with the world.’ There is in Naming the Fires a brave performance of the confusions and joys on a long road to self-possession.”

2020 Hefner Heitz Kansas Book Award in Fiction (2021 in Literary Nonfiction, 2022 in Poetry)

Behind the name: Learn more about the Hefner Heitz Kansas Book Award.

This award is sponsored by the Center for Kansas Studies, the Thomas Fox Averill Kansas Studies Collection at Mabee Library and the Friends of Mabee Library.

Please see the award schedule and entry guidelines below.

Award Schedule

2020 Best Fiction (novel or collection of short stories)
2021 Best Literary Nonfiction
2022 Best Poetry
2023 Best Fiction
2024 Best Literary Nonfiction (memoir, essays, journalistic writing)
2025 Best Poetry (collection of poems of at least 60 pages) continuing to alternate every three years

2020 Fiction Award Guidelines

Nominations can come from publishers, authors, or anyone interested in seeing a book considered. Only one book per author may be submitted.

Books must be original work by a single author (no anthologies).

Author must establish a connection to Kansas by birth, education, employment, residence or other significant claim.

Please submit two copies of each book nominated. Those books become the property of the Thomas Fox Averill Kansas Studies Collection.

Books must have an original publication date (copyright notice) within three calendar years immediately preceding the year of the competition deadline
. For example, to be eligible for the 2020 Fiction deadline, the nominee's book must have a publication date of 2017, 2018 or 2019.

Previous awardees are eligible to submit a new book.

Nominations for this year's award must be postmarked or presented by December 15, 2019.

Please submit books for consideration to:

c/o Thomas Fox Averill Kansas Studies Collection
Mabee Library
1700 College
Topeka, KS 66621

Steven Hind, 2019 Poetry Award Judge
Steven Hind is a native Kansan who grew up at the headwaters of the Verdigris River near Madison. He was educated at Emporia State University and the University of Kansas. He taught English in Kansas for 36 years. His poetry collections are Familiar Ground (1980), That Trick of Silence (1990), In a Place With No Map (1997) and The Loose Change of Wonder (2006). His memoir is Lonely by Nature. Hind’s poetry has been published in periodicals, including Cottonwood, Farmer’s Market, Midwest Quarterly, Inscape, Ellipsis, Kansas Quarterly, American Land Forum, and Kansas English. His poems have been printed in various anthologies, including 30 Kansas Poets, Kansas Voices, The Book of Contemporary Myth, and As Far As I Can See. He serves as editor of Young Kansas Writers for five years and serves as a book talk presenter for the Kansas Humanities Council. He writes: “Poetry is a mediation between feeling and experience, a guiding light, and a demonstration of how language works.”

The Thomas Fox Averill Kansas Studies Collection is an eclectic, inclusive set of materials dedicated to the study of Kansas literature through the state’s folklore, history, geography, flora, fauna, social fabric and culture. The holdings include novels, plays, collections of poetry and fiction, histories, biographies, memoirs, letters, scholarly articles, collected folklore, manuscripts and ephemera gathered over 40+ years. The collection is building an inclusive and exhaustive body of work dedicated to encouraging the reading and writing of Kansas Literature, as well as being a home for researching and writing about Kansas Literature and Culture.

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