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Northeastern Minnesota Book Awards announced

A memoir about growing up on the Iron Range, a collection of images painted by the late Sister Mary Charles McGough and a look at the Twin Ports' trolley years were the big winners during the 27th annual Northeastern Minnesota Book Awards on Thursday at the University of Minnesota Duluth.

Thirty-nine books were nominated in six categories. Winners received a $200 prize.

This year's speaker was Jim Johnson, Duluth's poet laureate.

The winners:

Memoir and Creative Nonfiction

"Rooted in Iron and Ice: Innocent Years on the Mesabi" by Gary W. Barfknecht, published by North Star Press of St. Cloud Inc. — Barfknecht grew up during a time of changing economics, not to mention a town's geographic coordinates, on the Iron Range.

Honorable mention: "Zenith City: Stories from Duluth" by Michael Fedo, published by University of Minnesota Press.


"Approaching the Gate" by Lynette Reini-Grandell, published by Holy Cow! Press — Honest images of life's complexities and recollections of Northeastern Minnesota.

Honorable mention: "Night Train Red Dust: Poems of the Iron Range" by Sheila Packa, published by Wildwood River Press.

Art, Photography

"Saved by Beauty: Sister Mary Charles McGough, OSB" by John Schifsky, Sister Lois Eckes, Peter Spooner, Dustin Lyon and Meridith Schifsky, published by Duluth Benedictine Books — The subject, a Cloquet native who created and educated, is known for her woodcuts and Christian icons.

Honorable mention: "The Other Side of Wilderness" by Richard C. Johnson, published by Will o' the Wisp Books.

General Nonfiction

"Twin Ports by Trolley: The Streetcar Era in Duluth-Superior" by Aaron Isaacs, published by University of Minnesota Press — Stories and photos about the almost six decades when streetcars moved people and cargo in Duluth and Superior.

Honorable mention: "Sawdust in Their Blood" by Jim Boyd, published by North Shore Press.

Children's Literature

"Rhoda's Rock Hunt" by Molly Beth Griffin, illustrated by Jennifer A. Bell, published by Minnesota Historical Society Press — The joy of rock collecting and the heavy backpack that ensues.

Honorable mention: "Wilder's Foe" by Diane Bradley, published by North Star Press of St. Cloud, Inc.


"Sins of Our Fathers" by Shawn Lawrence Otto, published by Milkweed Editions — A small-town banker has been caught embezzling to cover his gambling debt, then an Ojibwe leader enters the scene.

Honorable mention: "A River Through Two Harbors" by Dennis Herschbach, published by North Star Press of St. Cloud, Inc.