Topeka, Kan. – Salina poet Patricia Traxler is the winner of the 2019 Hefner Heitz Kansas Book Award in Poetry. This year's award ceremony will be held at Mabee Library on Tuesday, March 5 at 4:00 p.m. The Hefner Heitz Kansas Book Award is given annually in celebration of those who write, read and whose lives are enhanced by the literature, history and culture of Kansas.
Traxler is an award-winning poet, essayist, and fiction writer, and the author of four poetry collections: “Naming the Fires” (Hanging Loose Press), “Forbidden Words” (University of Missouri Press); “Blood Calendar” (William Morrow); “The Glass Woman” (Hanging Loose Press); and a novel, “Blood” (St. Martin's/Macmillan). Traxler was born and raised in California. She moved to Kansas in 1980, where three generations of the Traxler family before her had homesteaded and farmed in the Waterville area. Since that time, she has lived in Salina, where she has taught creative writing and worked as a poet.
The Hefner Heitz Kansas Book Award is awarded in three genres: poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction. The award alternates yearly between the genres; the fiction award will be given in 2020 and creative nonfiction will be awarded in 2021. 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. This year’s judge was Steven Hind, long-time professor at Hutchinson Community College and one of the deans of Kansas poetry.
Hind writes, “In a heightened and memorable language Patricia Traxler’s work performs the ecstasies and terrors of a life experience deeply lived and vigilantly observed. Her skills and her wit are richly exhibited. During my re-readings of her collection, a Robert Frost phrase came to mind: she has ‘a lover's quarrel with the world.’ There is in “Naming the Fires” a brave performance of the confusions and joys on a long road to self-possession.”
Hind also designated five books “In Appreciation” after reading the 52 entries: “After All” by Pat Daneman, “The Loves and Wars of Relative Scale” by Albert Goldbarth, “Brown” by Kevin Young, “Run the Red Lights” by Ed Skoog and “Odd Evening” by Eric McHenry.
For more information about the Hefner Heitz Kansas Book Award, visit www.washburn.edu/mabee/ksbookaward.