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2012 Book Award Reviews:

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J. Donald Coffin Memorial Book Award
Nelson Poetry Book Award

William J. Karnowski chaired the Coffin Award competition. He comments: “We received 16 qualified book entries for the J. Donald Coffin Memorial Book Award. This Award was established by Mrs. Bertha Coffin of District 4 in honor of her late husband. The judge for the 2012 contest is Publisher Mark Portell. The quality of books submitted is excellent. Thanks to all the entrants for their hard work.

2012 J. Donald Coffin Memorial Book Award:
Gary Clarke's Africa, by Gary ClarkeGary Clarke
, District 1, Topeka
Gary Clarke's Africa

Judge’s statement : Mark Portell

A mark of a good book is the patience required to absorb one page fully before turning to the nGary Clarkeext. "Gary Clarke's Africa" required two reviews: an initial patience-be-damed perusal of unique photographs; a second to relish the poignant essays which reveal his true love of what he calls "The Bright Continent." Africa is a world away, but I've been there in spirit....thanks to Gary Clarke.

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William J. Karnowski chaired the Coffin Award competition. He comments: “We received 6 qualified book entries for the Nelson Poetry Book Award. This award was created by Raymond and Margaret Nelson of District 5. The Judge for the 2012 contest is William Sheldon.  The poetry book submissions continue to be fantastic. Thanks to all the participants for their incredible books.

2012 Nelson Poetry Book Award:
The Afterlives of Trees, by Wyatt TownleyWyatt Townley, District 2, Shawnee Mission.
The Afterlives of Trees

Judge’s statement : William Sheldon

“One agrees to judge a writing contest with a certain amount of trepidation. There is always the potential that hours of reading will be repaid with drudgery. I am happy to say that the contest for the Kansas Authors Club's Nelson Poetry Book Award proved a joyful labor. I feel gifted by each of the six books I read and was pleased to face the happy problem of a difficult choice at the end of my work. Ultimately, though, I chose Wyatt Townley's The Afterlives of Trees as the fullest realization of the craft in a field of strong writing.
Wyatt Townley    “In the preface to her book, Townley writes, "Trees are bridges, their trunks straddling earth and sky. ...they pull creatures from above and below into their branches." Townley's poems are, of course, similar bridges between an author's striking sensibilities and the readers dawning awareness of that writers's (and the reader's own) epiphanies. Townley's great talent is her use of metaphor and simile, those bridges William Carlos Williams discussed as "performance in words." In "Striptease," Townley writes:

The cicada sings

only after leaving
its shell on the tree
just as the poem

unwinds down the page
losing its earrings
its shoes on the stairs.

    “This is just an example of Townley's facility, but in that metaphor couched within simile, in what William Stafford called "the language of everyday," we creatures called readers are pulled into the branches of Townley's THE AFTERLIVES OF TREES, a deeply thoughtful, consummately crafted volume of poems and this year's winner of the Nelson Poetry Award.

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