Areas of Study Schedule A Visit Virtual Tour Request Info Apply Now

Hefner Heitz Kansas Book Award

2022 Hefner Heitz Kansas Book Award in Poetry Winner Announced

Congratulations to Michael Kleber-Diggs, winner of the 2022 Hefner Heitz Kansas Book Award in Poetry! The 2022 award presentation will be held on Friday, September 23, 2022, 4 p.m., at Mabee Library, the day before the annual Kansas Book Festival on the Washburn University campus.

Kleber-Diggs, the author of Worldly Things, awarded the 2020 Max Ritvo Poetry Prize, was born and raised in Kansas and now lives in St. Paul, Minnesota. His work has appeared in Poem-a-Day, Poetry Daily, Poetry Northwest, Great River Review, Water~Stone Review, Potomac Review, Hunger Mountain, Memorious, and several other journals and anthologies. Michael teaches poetry and creative non-fiction through the Minnesota Prison Writers Workshop.

The Grove
Planted here as we are, see how we want
to bow and sway with the motion of earth
in sky. Feel how desire vibrates within us
as our branches fan out, promised entanglements,
rarely touch. Here, our sweet rustlings. If only
we could know how twisted up our roots
are, we might make vast shelter together – cooler
places, verdant spaces, more sustaining air.
But we are strange trees, reluctant in this
forest – we oak and ash, we pine –
the same the same, not different. All of us
reach toward star and cloud, all of us want
our share of light, just enough rainfall.

Patricia Traxler, the 2019 poetry award winner for Naming the Fires, served as judge. About her selection, she wrote:

Worldly Things is a wonder, and its author, Michael Kleber-Diggs, is a brilliant poet—sensitive and deft in his approach to contemporary life, to humanity, and to sexual politics. He doesn't shy away from sensitive or difficult subjects. There's a comforting familiarity in his work, and at the same time a freshness and originality that kept me surprised, engaged.

I read more than a few excellent entries in this competition, and I didn't go into the reading of these books with any specific artistic or intellectual agendas or moral prejudgments. What pushed me across the finish line with Michael's book was the passion and power of his writing combined with his sensitivity, tenderness, and insight. Those qualities, along with the originality of his verse, make this book a challenging and, at the same time, comforting read.

I'm proud to name Worldly Things the winner of the 2022 Kansas Book Award.

2022 Hefner Heitz Kansas Book Award in Poetry (2023 in Fiction, 2024 in Nonfiction)

The Hefner Heitz Kansas Book Award "in Poetry" "in Fiction" and "in Creative Nonfiction" alternates yearly for each genre. The prize, of $1,000, will be awarded to a book that meets the guidelines, and the winner will be invited to Washburn University's Mabee Library for a reading and presentation ceremony.

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

Call for Nominations and Submissions

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.

back to top button