SELF, DIVIDED named a Minnesota Book Award Finalist

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.

Howling Bird Press Fiction Book Prize Winner

Congratulations to our 2022 fiction winner and finalists!

WINNER: Carrie Grinstead, I Have Her Memories Now

Congratulations are also in order for our top finalists. It was difficult to choose only one book with so many great stories. Our four finalists are:

  • Sharon Hashimoto, Stealing Home
  • Jessica Hollander, Neighborhood Watch
  • Jessica Pitchford, Can’t Walk Out
  • Midge Raymond, Rogue Valley
Howling Bird Press Fiction Book Prize winner's names.

Jean Prokott to read and sign new poetry book at Garden Party Books

On Friday, November 12, from 6:30–8:30 p.m., Rochester poet Jean Prokott will be at the new Garden Party Books (602 7th St NW) for a poetry reading and book signing. Jean was awarded the 2021 Howling Bird Press Poetry Prize for The Second Longest Day of the Year from among more than two hundred submissions received from across the country. Prokott will be joined by local poets and writers, Sue McMillan (Rochester poet laureate), Lisa Higgs, Pamela Sinicrope, and Melissa Brandt, who will read a few poems to open the evening. Light food and refreshments will be provided.

The Second Longest Day of the Year tackles a variety of subjects, such as mental health, the pandemic, women’s rights, and even our famous corn tower, with notes of both seriousness and humor. “I see the book as a reflection of the inner vs. outer selves we experience day-by-day, hour-by-hour,” Prokott says. “Each of us goes from trying to understand, existentially, who we are, what our place is, what grief does to us—while at the same time trying to understand the same things from a political perspective. The collection moves between how our personal experience defines us as much as how political culture defines us.”

According to Sierra DeMulder, author of Today Means Amen, “The Second Longest Day of the Year offers us a poetic landscape that is easily entered but not lightly forgotten. Jean Prokott’s writing is agile. It moves gracefully from a stark wittiness and conversational observations to unforgettable imagery evoking the true palpability of grief. You’ll find yourself pausing between pages to reflect and revel; to mourn or query; to grow and keep going.”

The Second Longest Day of the Year will be available for purchase at Garden Party Books. Negative Covid test or proof of vaccination are required to attend. 

Jean Prokott has work published or forthcoming in Arts & LettersAngel City ReviewAnomaly, and Adirondack Review, among other journals; she is a recipient of an AWP Intro Journals Award, a recipient of the Joan Ramseyer Poetry Award, a finalist for the RHINO Founder’s Prize, and a finalist for the Red Wheelbarrow Poetry Prize. She has an MFA from Minnesota State University Mankato and a Master of Science in Education.

Howling Bird Press is a student-run publishing house at Augsburg University in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The press launched in 2014 and is part of the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program at Augsburg University: www.augsburg.edu/mfa. For additional information, please contact Jim Cihlar, publisher, at cihlar@augsburg.edu. Facebook and Instagram: @howlingbirdpress  Twitter: @HowlingBirdPrs

HBP’s next book is available for pre-order!

The Second Longest Day of the Year book cover

The Second Longest Day of the Year, by Jean Prokott, is now available for pre-order. Jean is the Howling Bird Press 2021 Poetry Prize winner and we’re thrilled to see the great things Jean – and her book of poetry – will do!

Pre-order the book here.

“THE SECOND LONGEST DAY OF THE YEAR offers us a poetic landscape that is easily entered but not lightly forgotten. Jean Prokott’s writing is agile. It moves gracefully from a stark wittiness and conversational observations to unforgettable imagery evoking the true palpability of grief. You’ll find yourself pausing between pages to reflect and revel; to mourn or query; to grow and keep going.”
-Sierra DeMulder

Howling Bird Press Spotlights!

This year’s Howling Bird Press cohort has nine student editors. Six of the editors — plus an alumna volunteer and the HPB mentor — agreed to give the world a glimpse of what goes on behind the curtain.

Kate Holman

Kate Holman headshot

Kate is studying in Publishing I and II in Augsburg’s MFA program. She is especially interested in the developmental editing and proofreading aspects of publishing.

Born and based in Minnesota, she is a poet and avid blogger, currently building her brand and voice. Her favorite authors are Taylor Jenkins Reid, Mindy Kaling, and Luvvie Ajayi Jones.

Katrina Gabelko

Katrina Gabelko headshot

Entering her second year in the MFA program, Katrina has had a great experience in the MFA program so far, despite having begun the program in the early months of the pandemic.The low-residency program structure and an incredibly creative faculty have made it possible for her to participate fully in addition to working as a registered nurse full-time.

Katrina has been a nurse since 1994. She draws most of her writing inspiration from her experiences at work. For over 25 years, she’s had the incredible privilege of caring for people confronted with unfathomable circumstances. Their stories need to be told— and she absolutely loves telling them.

In Katrina’s words: “Participating as a student editor with HBP has been rewarding and exciting. It’s a thrill to read a brand-new manuscript. At the same time, the editing and publishing worlds can be complex, bureaucratic, and frustrating at times. I won’t lie— it’s a great deal of work, especially in addition to writing classes. However, I’ve found that being a student editor richly enhances my writing practice— well worth the effort!”

Lucas Miller

Lucas Miller headshot

Luke is studying Publishing I and II in the MFA program. He is especially interested in the screenwriting and creative non-fiction components of the program.

Luke is a member of the Minnesota Screenwriter’s Workshop and has written four screenplays, receiving finalist recognition in the 2019 Diverse Voices Contest and the 2020 Los Angeles International Screenplay Awards. He was first inspired to write screenplays after watching the film “Ordinary People” when he was 14 years old.

He recently had two non-fiction essays published in the Murphy Square Literary Journal. His Mount Rushmore of writers are Colson Whitehead, Gillian Flynn, Aaron Sorkin, and Taylor Swift.

Outside of writing, Miller works as Director of Marketing and Business Development for the Pride Institute, a Twin Cities based LGBTQIA+ specific addiction treatment center. He resides in downtown Minneapolis with his dog, Stevie.

Pam Sinicrope

Pam Sinicrope headshot

Pam is an editor for Howling Bird Press pursuing her MFA through Augsburg University Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing program with a primary focus on Poetry.

Her poems have appeared in Aethlon, The Night Heron Barks, Indolent Books, Murphy Square Literary Journal, Literary Mama, 3 Elements Review, and Appalachian Journal, among others.

Pam lives in Rochester, MN. She has a doctorate in Public Health and engages in research to eliminate health disparities with a focus in cancer prevention. She enjoys time with her family, hiking with her dog, tennis, and independent films. She is about to become an empty nester and looking forward to seeing her oldest and youngest sons graduate from college and high school. 

Nick Lindstrom

Nick Lindstrom headshot

Nick is from Minneapolis, MN. He is an aspiring horror writer whose favorite book is The Road by Cormac McCarthy. In his free time, Nick likes to fish, scuba dive, and smoke ribs.

Aaliyah

Aaliyah headshot

Aaliyah is an editor for Howling Bird Press, studying Publishing in the MFA program. She is especially interested in the developmental editing and proofreading aspects.

Born and raised in Iowa, she specializes in CNF surrounding themes of race, identity, and mental health. Her favorite books are Men We Reaped, Lucy Temple, and the I am Number Four series.

Volunteer alumna – Amanda Symes

Amanda Symes headshot

Amanda was one of the first editors for Howling Bird press and loved the program so much that she still volunteers her time. She earned her undergraduate degrees in Mass Communication and Media Writing from Augsburg University, then her MFA in Fiction with a focus on publishing from Augsburg University Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing. She’s a senior communications specialist by day and writer by night. She is usually outdoors, except when she’s indoors scaring herself by reading Shirley Jackson, Benjamin Percy, and Kelly Link.

Mentor – Jim Cihlar

Jim Cihlar headshot

Jim Cihlar is the Publishing Mentor and Poetry Mentor in Augsburg’s MFA program, where he teaches Publishing I and II and leads Howling Bird Press.

Jim has worked previously for Etruscan Press, Wiigwaas Press, New Rivers Press, and Krause Publications. His positions have included managing editor, marketing and sales director, program director, copy editor, and poetry editor. He has also taught at the University of Minnesota, Macalaster College, and the University of Wisconsin.

He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska, where he served as a reader for Prairie Schooner and an editorial assistant for Great Plains Quarterly. He earned his BA from the University of Iowa, where he studied in the Writer’s Workshop. His most recent poetry book, The Shadowgraph, came out from the University of New Mexico Press. His writing has appeared in The American Poetry Review, The Threepenny Review, The Brooklyn Rail, The Rumpus, Western American Literature, and Lambda Literary Review.

2021 Poetry Prize – Cover Reveal

Howling Bird Press has awarded its 2021 poetry prize to “The Second Longest Day of the Year” by Jean Prokott of Rochester, Minnesota. The press will publish the book in November, and along with publication, Prokott will receive a $1,000 prize.

The Second Longest Day of the Year poetry book cover.

Prokott’s work was chosen in a national competition from among more than 200 submissions.

“I see the book as a reflection of the inner vs. outer selves we experience day by day, hour by hour,” Prokott says. “Each of us goes from trying to understand, existentially, who we are, what our place is, what grief does to us—while at the same time trying to understand the same things from a political perspective. The collection moves between how our personal experience defines us as much as how political culture defines us.”

Howling Bird Press on NewPages.com

NEW PAGES has selected Howling Bird Press book “Self, Divided” for their New & Noteworthy list for the month of May. We’re thrilled John Medeiros and his memoir are getting the recognition we know both deserve.

Check it out! https://www.newpages.com/books/new-book-arrivals

Q and A with Howling Bird Press Author John Medeiros

John Medeiros

What is it about writing that energizes you?
The intimacy of that space is what energizes me. Writing centers me. It reminds me of my place in the larger scheme of things, and it forces me to pause and reflect on those portions of my life that need reflection. It’s easy to avoid something when there is always something else that needs our attention. Writing allows me the space and intimacy I need with that something that would otherwise be avoided.

What are common traps for aspiring writers?
It is common for writers to focus on the product of writing, with so little regard to the process that leads to that product. This is why we often self-edit while we write which, if you think about it, is a type of censorship – a form of self-doubt. If we could have a deeper reverence for the process we would grow as writers, and here’s why: becoming intimate with the process builds in us a trust that the product will eventually happen. We don’t need to know what the end result will look like before that process has begun; what we need to know is that the process will get us there. Knowing and trusting the process builds in us a sense that we are writers and removes the self-doubt that tells us we aren’t.

What is your writing Kryptonite?
I tend to think about my audience too much and too early on in the process. This, too, leads to self-censorship. I am often reminding myself that no one but me needs to know what I’m writing about and the process will eventually reveal what audience, if any, I need to share my writing with.

What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
For 12 years I co-curated an LGBTQI reading series called Queer Voices with Intermedia Arts. Through that series so many queer-identified writers have shared their voices and their stories. I am still in contact with many of them as I’ve watched them develop as strong literary voices in our community. It’s funny, but a few years ago I deactivated my Facebook account; I felt it was not meeting my needs at the time and was more of a negative influence than a positive influence in my life. My account was deactivated for almost a year, and in that year several colleagues published books, performed readings, and announced awards for their writing. I missed all of them, which saddened me. So I reactivated my Facebook account so I would stay in the loop as much as possible (social media really is the primary means of communication with respect to these things). Since then I’ve attended readings (both in-person and virtual) and read books I would not otherwise have heard about. Why do I say this? For two reasons:

First, to show the power of social media and to remind others that social media is something that we can actually control (while recognizing that, if not used wisely, can also control us). For me, I had to find the right purpose, and that purpose is to reconnect with other writers, including those who are LGBTQI-identified.

Second, in response to your question of how other authors help me become a better writer, to illustrate how important it is to acknowledge other writers and read/listen to their work. Seeing other perspectives and other points of view betters me as a writer. Hearing not just the stories of others but how those stories are told humbles me and reminds me there is always room and time to learn new things.

Do you want each of your stories to stand on their own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between them?
My writing is definitely about connections between stories. My memoir, for example, contains poems – or some versions of poems – that were previously included in my book of poetry. This is because the stories of our lives are interconnected to a larger whole, and the connections between those stories is what adds texture and complexity to our lives.

Self, Divided book cover

What have you done since you won the Howling Bird Press prize?
Since winning the award I revised the manuscript several times – that kept me busy! I’m also an immigration lawyer, let’s just say that kept me busy, too!

What did you do with your first writing advance?
First? Will there be another? LOL. Actually, I donated it to a few non-profits, including those that foster queer-identified writers.

How many unpublished and half-finished books/stories do you have?
Dozens, including unfinished poems. I literally have folder called “first lines to work from” and another called “drafts.” Literally dozens.

Countdown to John Medeiros reading on April 16

Last week, we proudly announced the availability of Self, Divided, HBP’s 2020 prize winner for nonfiction. After an unavoidable production delay in the midst of the pandemic, John Medeiros’ touching, compelling, thought -provoking memoir is here for all to experience. On April 16, Medeiros reads the amazing story of the trials and triumphs of two identical twins, one of whom is gay and HIV-positive. This online event, presented by Quatrefoil Library, is free to the public. Registration is required.. Additional information is available on Quatrefoil’s website:https://qlibrary.org.

Registration link: ://us02web.zoom.us/j/89499076840?pwd=ditReDJ2cTdhd0RBZCsxelZPbE1PZz09&fbclid=IwAR1f9O3WYV1srUdt2iwaZeWeEf1VBBcKMBcs-x1UvIhFc1Ycu6UHvTeTdEc