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2007 Book Award Reviews:

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Centennial Convention


J. Donald Coffin Memorial Book Award
Ferguson History Book Award
Nelson Poetry Book Award

2007 J. Donald Coffin Memorial Book Award:
Max Yoho
, District 1, Topeka
The Moon Butter Route

The Moon Butter Route by Max Yoho Dancing Goat Press published The Moon Butter Route in 2006. This humorous novel, set in southeast Kansas near the end of World War II, tells of thirteen-year-old Wally Gant, who takes a job at a local small dairy and finds that he is involved in a bootlegging operation.
     The Moon Butter Route was also designated as a Kansas Notable Book in 2006 by the Kansas Center for the Book. More recently, the title was voted a "Favorite Kansas Book," along with Yoho's first novel, The Revival, winner of the Max Yoho photo2002 Kansas Authors Club J. Donald Coffin Memorial Award.
    Yoho was born in Colony, Kansas, in 1934. He also lived in Atchison before moving with his family to Topeka in 1949. He spent 38 years as a machinist. Retiring in 1992, Yoho began a new career as a writer. He has four books in print. His work is available from online booksellers and also can be ordered by any bookstore. For more information visit

Judge’s statement :
When I was approached to judge the Coffin Award, I was elated at the opportunity to read such a selection of talent from the state of Kansas. I’ve long suspected that the talent pool in Kansas ran deep, but to my dismay it ran both deep and wide. I’m not exaggerating when I say that choosing a winner from this year’s submissions was incredibly challenging. Not only did the submissions include a wide range of genres (from gritty police and detective stories all told with haunting precision and attention to voice to histories, memoirs, and remembrances that captured times and towns with startling and poetic clarity), but the range and skill of execution proved that our state talent is prolific and profound.
   My chief criterion was excellence, but if I’d settled for that you’d have a shelf of winners here. The work that ultimately convinced me of its singular worthiness, though, demonstrated that peculiar dry sense of Kansas humor and the kind of attention to character that reflects both the skill of the author and the essence of the small, Kansas town. The Moon Butter Route began with one hilarious scene told from an unforgettable voice and didn’t let go of me. This year’s winner is in the spirit and mold of that great Mid-western classic Huckleberry Finn and I plan to recommend it with as much gusto as the original.

2007 Judge: Darren DeFrain is Director of the MFA & Writing Programs at Wichita State University. He is author of numerous short stories, essays, and screenplays. He is a graduate of the University of Utah, Kansas State University, Texas State University's M.F.A. program, and Western Michigan University, where he received his Ph.D. in creative writing in 2000. He now lives in Wichita, Kansas, with his wife, Melinda, and two daughters. You can learn more at

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2007 Ferguson History Book Award:
Duane L. Herrmann, District 1, Topeka
By Thy Strengthening Grace: A Brief History of the First One Hundred Years of the Bah
á’í Faith in Topeka, 1906-2006

By Thy Strengthening Grace by Duane HerrmannThe 2007 Ferguson Kansas History Book Award, announced by Pat Ferguson, District 2, Kansas City, was given to Duane Herrmann, District 1, Topeka, for By Thy Strengthening Grace: A Brief History of the First One Hundred Years of the Bahá’í Faith in Topeka, 1906-2006, published by the Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Topeka, 2006. The book is available from (search for Herrmann) and Lloyd Zimmer, 117 SW 6th in TopekaDuane L. Herrmann photo (

A native Topekan, Herrmann has a variety of work published in a dozen countries in four languages, including history, memoirs, fiction and poetry. He has written previously on various aspects of the Bahá’í Faith, specializing in Kansas Bahá’í history. His research has discovered that the Kansas Bahá’í community dates to the 19th century and is the second oldest west of Egypt.
     His historical work has been recognized internationally and translated into Dutch, French, and German. He holds degrees in Education and History from Ft. Hays State University. A fifth generation Kansan, father of four and grandfather of three, he now works for the State of Kansas.
     Herrmann spoke and read from his most recent volume of poems Prairies of Possibilities at the KAC District 1 meeting in October, 2007. Because Duane was unable to attend the 2007 KAC convention in Wichita, he was presented his certificate for the Ferguson Award at the District 1 October meeting.

Read more online about Duane Herrmann:

2007 Judge: Eric Anderson, who teaches history at the University of Kansas

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2007 Nelson Poetry Book Award:
Larry Rochelle, District 2, Pittsboro, N.C.
Home Schooled

Home Schooled by Larry Rochelle
Poet and mystery writer Larry Rochelle has lived in Kansas since 1978 with brief stops in Missouri and Texas in between. He earned degrees from Toledo, Dayton, and Baker College. Along the way he taught high school for 13 years and college English for 29, mostly at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, KS. He is now semi-retired and living in North Carolina with Larry Rochelle photohis wife Ruth. They have four grown children: Nick, Doug, Dave and Heather. His last book of Kansas poetry, Arrow, written during 2006-2007, was published in April 2007. He is writing a new Palmer Morel mystery, Murder on 15/501, and a poetry book full of North Carolina images called Burnt Coffee, which should be available in Spring 2008.

Judge’s statement :
The strongest impressions through Larry Rochelle’s Home Schooled are those of a writer connected to place. That awareness of being from a place, that sense of connectedness navigates through a landscape of hardware stores, tornados, or an old Kansas where sharks died near Salina. His observations are not Emerson’s floating “dissociated eyeballs” but an invitation to shared insight and to vistas cleared of distractions. Here can be found the whispering of people loved, hated or merely being witness to pancake syrup dripping off/ the edge of a platter. Impressions of experience remain like footprints in cement, or evoke smothered passions and resentments. Tales of families are found as in “Off Old Osawatomie Road,” where father and son contend within the breath of alcohol-impaired lives.
   Rochelle is a writer who delights in words and commands the vocabulary to construct concrete, tactile images, and to transform words and details into specificity: a scud of puffballs; or purple thistles/ rock gently spilling seeds into culverts. Metaphors can be found as well, such as in “Gestation” with its second stanza: your motives transparent, what/ did you expect, some/ twirling universe/ topped with morning glories? And that double entendre can be seen blooming inside those ‘morning glories.’
   Words well done and delivered!

2007 Judge: David Leo Tangeman is a native Kansan. His volume of poetry and prose, Gathering Reunion, was winner of The J. Donald Coffin Memorial Book Award in 1996. Another collection of poetry, The Black Cow, was privately published. His career as an educator spans decades and includes high school students, severely multiply handicapped students, college students, and students with behavior disorders. He has also acted over the years in Topeka theaters, most recently performing with The Karen Hastings Players’ production of T. S. Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral. He has presented many programs at District 1 meetings.

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