AWP 2017 Event: The Backwaters Press Celebrates 20 Years

AWP 2017 Event in D.C.:
Thursday, Feb. 9th at 10:30am
Virginia Barber Middleton Stage, Sponsored by USC, Exhibit Halls D & E, Convention Center, Level Two

The Backwaters Press, a nonprofit press out of Omaha, Nebraska, will celebrate 20 years in 2017. This event will feature five of our authors who are included in our 20th Anniversary Anthology, which will be released at AWP. This event will also feature our editor, Michael Catherwood, who will discuss the history of the press.

Lola Haskins’s poetry has appeared in the Atlantic, the Christian Science Monitor, the London Review of Books, Rattle, Prairie Schooner, Georgia Review, and Southern Review, and been broadcast on NPR and BBC. Her most recent book is How Small, Confronting Morning.

Susan Elbe is the author of The Map of What Happened, winner of both The Backwaters Prize and the Jacar Press Julie Suk prizes, Eden in the Rearview Mirror, Where Good Swimmers Drown, and Light Made from Nothing.

John J. Ronan is a poet, playwright, movie/TV producer, and journalist. He has received national honors for his poetry and is a former NEA Fellow, Ucross Fellow, Bread Loaf Scholar, and Poet Laureate in Gloucester, MA, where his cable program The Writer’s Block with John Ronan is in its 27th year. Poems have appeared in Three Penny Review, New England Review, Southern Poetry Review, New York Quarterly, Folio, and many other publications. Media productions have won a Telly, an Aurora Gold, a First for Education Programming from NECTA, as well as other awards, and have been aired on PBS outlets. A previous book of poetry Marrowbone Lane (The Backwaters Press), was a Highly Recommended selection by the Boston Authors Club. His newest poetry collection is Taking the Train of Singularity South from Midtown (The Backwaters Press) and it will be released at AWP. (

Howard W. Robertson is a poet and fiction writer who has published nine books of poems, including most recently, Odes to the Ki of the Universe, and the short novel Peculiar Pioneer. His awards include the Sinclair Poetry Prize, the Robinson Jeffers Prize, the Bumbershoot Award, and others.

Susan Firer is the author of five full-length poetry collections,
including Milwaukee Does Strange Things to People: New and Selected Poems 1979-2007 (Backwaters Press, 2007). Her books have been awarded the Cleveland State University Poetry Center Prize, the Posner Award, and the Backwaters Prize. She has also been the recipient of a Milwaukee County Artist Fellowship, a Wisconsin Arts Board Fellowship, and the Lorine Niedecker Award. Her poem “Call Me Pier” is included in the Poetry Foundation’s Poetry Everywhere series. From 2008-2010, she was Poet Laureate of the City of Milwaukee. In 2015, Firer was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. Her sixth poetry collection, The Transit of Venus, was published by The Backwaters Press in 2016.

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AWP Backwaters Press Author Signings

Stop at our booth #973 while you’re at AWP. We will have a prize wheel with fun giveaways plus these amazing BWP authors signing books:

Thursday, Feb. 9:

12pm John Ronan
12:30pm Susan Elbe
1pm Lola Haskins
1:30pm Howard Robertson
2pm Zeina Hashem Beck
2:30pm John Bradley
3pm Susan Firer

Friday, Feb. 10:

11am Richard Robbins
11:30am Kim Garcia
12pm Jeanne Emmons
12:30pm Michael Catherwood
1:30pm Charles Fort

Saturday, Feb. 11:

11am Susan Eisenberg

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BWP Reading: Kwame Dawes, Lisa Fay Coutley, and Michael Skau: POSTPONED

Wednesday, January 25th, 7 p.m.

Rescheduled for Wednesday, February 1, 7 p.m. due to weather.

1516 Gallery, 1516 Leavenworth St., Omaha.

Kwame Dawes is the author of sixteen collections of poetry, including, most recently, Duppy Conqueror, Wheels, Back of Mount Peace, and Hope’s Hospice. He has also published two novels, Bivouac and She’s Gone, winner of the 2008 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Best First Novel. An accomplished actor, playwright, and producer, fifteen of his plays have been produced, and he has acted in, directed, or produced several of these productions himself, most recently One Love at the Lyric Hammersmith in London. His essays have appeared in numerous journals including Bomb Magazine, The London Review of Books, Granta, Essence, World Literature Today, and Double Take Magazine. Until July 2011, Dawes was Distinguished Poet in Residence, Louis Frye Scudder Professor of Liberal Arts, and founder and executive director of the South Carolina Poetry Initiative. He is now Editor-in-Chief of Prairie Schooner and Professor of English at UNL.

Lisa Fay Coutley is the author of Errata (Southern Illinois University Press, 2015), winner of the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry Open Competition Award, and In the Carnival of Breathing (Black Lawrence Press, 2011), winner of the Black River Chapbook Competition. Her poetry has been awarded a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, scholarships to the Bread Loaf and Sewanee Writers’ Conferences, and an Academy of American Poets Levis Prize. Recent prose and poetry has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Kenyon Review, Gulf Coast, and Poets & Writers. She is an Assistant Professor of Poetry in the Writer’s Workshop at the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

Michael Skau was hired by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska at Omaha in the Fall of 1973 and continued teaching there until his retirement in 2011. He is now emeritus professor. Skau has published books on the Beat poets Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Gregory Corso and articles on Ferlinghetti, Corso, Richard Brautigan, William S. Burroughs, Jerzy Kosinski, and Jack Kerouac. He has published more than a hundred poems in such periodicals as Laurel Review, Kansas Quarterly, Passaic Review, Carolina Quarterly, Northwest Review, Midwest Poetry Review, Midwest Quarterly, South Carolina Review, Texas Review, California Quarterly, Paddlefish, and Hawai’i Review, among many others. He was named Winner of the 2013 William Kloefkorn Award for Excellence in Poetry. His poetry book, Me & God, came out from WSC Press in 2014. His forthcoming collection, After the Bomb, is due out from WordTech in May 2017.

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DRONE Recommended by Small Press Distribution

droneOur favorite distributor and online retail outlet, SPD, has recommended the 2015 Backwaters Prize winner, DRONE, by Kim Garcia in their latest e-mail news letter.

You can purchase the newly published DRONE from SPD and see why it was selected for the prize last year.

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2016 Backwaters Prize goes to . . .

We are thrilled to announce our latest recipient of the Backwaters Prize. This year’s top prize is $2,000 and publication of the submitted manuscript. The press received more than 300 manuscripts from around the world and our dedicated team of readers winnowed that number to the very best of the best which were submitted to our gracious judge, Henri Cole, for evaluation.


Physical Education, Emily Van Kley

A Different Physics, Lisa Rosenberg

What It Done to Us, Essy Stone

Lion Brothers, Leona Sevick

Fable of the Lost Boy, Cathie Sandstrom

Helpless Intruders in a Strange World, Heather Altfeld

Before the Drought, Margo Berdeshevsky

Was Body, Billie Tadros

The Zoo at Night, Susan Gubernat

The winning manuscript for the 2016 Backwaters is:

Stunt Heart, Mary Jo Thompson

We would like to thank all the poets who submitted their work and congratulate the finalists and Ms. Thompson for their extraordinary work.

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Marjorie Saiser on the Writer’s Almanac

Backwaters Press poet, Marjorie Saiser, will be featured on Garrison Keillor’s daily program, The Writer’s Almanac, on July 3rd. Keillor will read Saiser’s poem, “Last Day of Kindergarten” from her most recent collection, I Have Nothing to Say about Fire. Saiser says of the work, “The poem is based on a photo of my grandson and his friend on the last day of school, tearing around in the park and jumping up on picnic tables after the last bell of kindergarten.”

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The Backwaters Press Presents: Sarah McKinstry-Brown, Chad Christensen, Marjorie Saiser

All are welcome to join us for this special reading event — celebrate summer and poetry!

The reading will be held on the campus of the University of Nebraska, Omaha at the Community Engagement Center, 2nd floor, in the OPPD Dialogue Room.

Bios of the readers:

Winner of two Nebraska Book Awards, Sarah McKinstry-Brown studied poetry at the University of New Mexico, the University of Sheffield, and the University of Nebraska under Missouri’s Poet Laureate, William Trowbridge. She’s been published everywhere from West Virginia’s standardized tests to literary journals such as RATTLE, Green Mountains Review, and The South Dakota Review. A Teaching Artist for the Lied Center for Performing Arts, McKinstry-Brown is the founder, organizer and host of feedback, a literary reading series that features writers reading from works in progress. For more info, go to:

Chad M. Christensen is the managing editor of the WSC Press and the co-director of the Plains Writers Series. He teaches writing and publishing at Wayne State College and earned his MFA from the University of Nebraska. He is also the co-founder of Pseudo Poseur Productions which is a co-op for writers, musicians, and artists in northeast Nebraska. His books of poetry are Ground Bound: a novel in verse and Shoot From the Hip. He also writes a column for the Wayne Stater called “High on the Plains.” He is currently working on his next book of poetry titled No More Passing Notes In Death Class.
Find him on FB:

I HAVE NOTHING TO SAY ABOUT FIRE is Marjorie Saiser’s fifth full-length book of poems. She co-edited ROAD TRIP (The Backwaters Press, 2003), featuring interviews with writers who teach and also co-edited TIMES OF SORROW/TIMES OF GRACE (The Backwaters Press, 2002), a collection of prose and poetry by women of the Great Plains. Saiser’s awards include the Willa Award for Poetry, four Nebraska Book Awards, the Nebraska Literary Heritage Award, an Academy of American Poets Award, the Vreelands Award, and the Leo Love Award. She was named Distinguished Artist in Poetry by the Nebraska Arts Council in 2009. Saiser’s poems have been published in the anthologies Nebraska Presence, Women Write Resistance, and The Untidy Season as well as in American Life in Poetry, the Writer’s Almanac, Prairie Schooner, Georgia Review, Nimrod, Rattle, Chattahoochee Review, Cream City Review, Smartish Pace, burntdistrict, RHINO, Fourth River, Field, and the Cimarron Review. She and her husband, Don, make their home in both Nebraska and Arizona.

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We want your feedback!

Did you participate in our Omaha Gives! photo scavenger hunt? Did you mean to? Did you know we did one?

We’re asking our public for feedback on this latest community activity. Please follow this link to the survey. We will have a drawing for participation prizes.


The BWP Family.

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Upcoming Readings for Zeina Hashem Beck

Backwaters Prize winner, Zeina Hashem Beck, has three US readings in April.Zeina

April 9, at the Pen and Brush, NYC

April 11, Brandywine Workshop, Philadelphia, PA

April 15, Split This Rock Poetry Festival, Washington, D.C.

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Join BWP at Omaha’s Zine Fest, March 12

Omaha Zine Fest is proud to present its first annual event on March 12, 2016. This year’s fest will showcase the work of more than 80 creators and distributors in the the local and regional zine-making community. The event will also feature workshops and speakers from the publishing industry in the Midwest. Omaha Zine Fest will be free, family-friendly and open to the public. Backwaters Press will be a part of this event! Please visit our table.

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