Special to The Gazette
Two books by Emporia publisher, Meadowlark Books, received honors at the annual convention of the Kansas Authors Club held this year in Wichita on October 5-7.
Both the Nelson Poetry Book Award and the Martin Kansas History Book Award went to Meadowlark titles.
“Stage Whispers,” by Roy J. Beckemeyer, was the recipient of the Nelson award.
“The scope of subjects covered in the collection of poems is engaging and interesting,” Judge Paul Hawkins wrote. “Each of the 90 poems is an invitation to read, speak, listen and see. Topics range from the Anderson Creek fire in Barber County, Kansas to the psychology of bullying to the civil war in Syria. Beckemeyer’s adeptness as a poet is illustrated through word choice, image and dialogue. He generously shares his experiences and understandings about life. Through his poems a sense of trust and honesty is conveyed to the reader.”
Since 2002, a Kansas poet has been honored with Nelson Poetry Book Award. The prize was started by Raymond and Margaret Nelson in 2002. The couple served the organization in various offices, including terms as president for each of them, beginning in 1979.
The Martin Kansas History Book Award went to “Golden Rule Days: History and Recollections of 109 Closed Kansas High Schools,” by James Kenyon.
This is the second history book award for the author, who also received the Martin in 2018 for his first Meadowlark book, “A Cow for College and Other Stories of 1950s Farm Life.”
“A remarkable amount of research went into compiling Golden Rule Days,” Judge Virginia Allain said. “Just the collecting of personal stories for each school and weaving them into the history reflects several years of work. There are tidbits from yearbooks, memories from former students, and other bits of information collected by the author. A brief history of each locale is followed by notable graduates, memories of teachers, activities and events, athletics, triumphs and tragedies plus the reason the school closed. This is a solid Kansas history reference title for public libraries and makes fun browsing for students seeking memories of their school days.”
The Kansas Authors Club has been recognizing books for excellence in preserving Kansas History for decades. The family of Gail Lee Martin donated funds to continue the award in 2018 when the Ferguson family, supporter since 2001, retired from the task. Martin was a more than 25-year member of the organization and served in the position of State Archivist from 1995 to 2005.
Three additional awards for published books were given at the annual convention. Grant Overstake, author of “The Real Education of TJ Crowley” (Grain Valley Publishing), was the recipient of the J. Donald and Bertha Coffin Memorial Book Award for best Kansas book, as well as the “It Looks Like a Million” Design Award for the same title.
The young adult historical title takes place in 1968 Wichita and addresses racial conflict and civil rights during a time when integration laws were taking effect.
The fifth recognition — the Kansas Authors Club Children’s Book Award — was given to Jenn Bailey of Lenexa for her children’s book, “A Friend for Henry” (Chronicle Books).
The illustrated book is told from the perspective of a boy on the autism spectrum.
The Kansas Authors Club has been supporting writers since 1904. Each year the organization honors the best in Kansas books, as well as holding contests for adults and youth in prose and poetry writing. Information in membership in the club can be found at www.kansasauthors.org.