The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library announced the finalists for the Minnesota Book Award on January 29, 2022. Howling Bird Press nonfiction prize winning title Self, Divided by John Medeiros was named one of four finalists in the category of memoir and creative nonfiction.
The winner will be announced at the Thirty-Fourth Annual Minnesota Book Awards on April 26, 7:00 p.m., in Saint Paul at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts. For more information, visit the website for the Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library.
Self, Divided was selected from a national contest run by Howling Bird Press, and was edited, and published by student editors enrolled in Publishing I & II, the yearlong English course offered by the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Augsburg University, taught by James Cihlar.
“Self, Divided is an immersive journey to the self’s ‘true north’ against the backdrop of identical twinship, growing up working class, coming out, and living with HIV/AIDS, ” writes novelist Brian Malloy. “Captivating not only for Medeiros’s evocative lyricism, but also for his original and imaginative use of narrative space, his quest to create an identity all his own is a sad, funny, and memorable story of growth against the odds, written in the language of hard-won victory.”
In 1995 John Medeiros and his identical twin brother participated in a gene therapy study in which the HIV-positive twin was infused with billions of genes from the HIV-negative twin. This memoir details, from an individual perspective, how the world responded (and didn’t respond) to the first (and still ongoing) pandemic of HIV/AIDS. Self, Divided explores the dysfunctional yet enduring relationships that surround this pivotal moment in Medeiros’s life and family, brilliantly capturing how we all are connected, in one way or another, to those around us.
Author Barrie Jean Borich writes, “Most memoirs grapple with the individual seen again, but for John Medeiros this mirroring is literal. Self, Divided considers the author’s life as an identical twin. One brother is gay and HIV-positive, the other a straight Christian, each part of a whole that will not divide, even in times of desperate separation. How can two men, intermingled since birth but whose life paths diverge, come to truly brother one another? Rendered in lyric form that is at once severed and continuous, this memoir pulses deep.”
John Medeiros is a poet, memoirist, identical twin, and lawyer. He is the author of couplets for a shrinking world and co-editor of Queer Voices: Poetry, Prose, and Pride. His work has appeared in numerous anthologies and literary journals, and he is the recipient of two Minnesota State Arts Board grants, Gulf Coast’s Nonfiction Award, and the AWP Intro Journals Award. He has an MFA and a JD from Hamline University, and he lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with his husband.