By Special to The Gazette

Meadowlark Books of Emporia recently announced the winner of the inaugural flight of “The Birdy Poetry Prize.”

With a $500 cash prize and publication of the full-length poetry book, “A Certain Kind of Forgiveness,” the 2019 award goes to Carol Kapaun Ratchenski, of Fargo, North Dakota.

“There is a worldliness in these poems, the kind of grit that accompanies a strong heart,” said 2017 — 2019 Kansas Poet Laureate Kevin Rabas. “There’s awareness — of the self, of the world. And the poems are populated with the magical, husky things of this earth: warm beer in Berlin, rice in a bowl in a monastery and stains from fresh cranberries. These are poems we can savor, now and again.”

Ratchenski is a lifelong resident of North Dakota, in her words, “where you can see the sky without ever looking up and the open spaces demand art. And sometimes, love.”

Her first collection of poetry, “A Beautiful Hell,” won the 2016 Many Voices Project and was published by New Rivers Press. “A Beautiful Hell” has since been adapted to the stage by Laurie J. Baker with the support of Theater “B” and Humanities North Dakota.

Ratchenskiʼs first novel, “Mambaby” was published in 2013 by Knuckledown Press. Her work has appeared in “Gypsy Cab,” “Red Weather,” “North Dakota Quarterly,” “Wintercount,” “Lake Region Review,” “Dust and Fire,” “Dash,” “NDSU Magazine,” and others as well as in the anthologies “Resurrecting Grace: Remembering Catholic Childhoods,” edited by Marilyn Sewell, and published by Beacon Press in 2001, “the Cancer Poetry Project: Poems by Cancer Patients and Those Who Love Them,” edited by Karen B. Miller, published by Fairview Press in 2007, and “Visiting Bob: Poems Inspired by the Life and Work of Bob Dylan,” edited by Thom Tammaro and Alan Davis published by New Rivers Press in 2018.

Ratchenski is a Licensed Professional Counselor and the owner of Center for Compassion and Creativity in Fargo. She is at work on a second novel while she prepares to be honest, loving, disruptive and groovy at age 60.

“A Certain Kind of Forgiveness” is due out spring 2019. It will be available to order from the author, from the Meadowlark Books web-store, and for order through all online and traditional book outlets.

Meadowlark encourages readers to support their nearest independent bookstore. Meadowlark Books created The Birdy Poetry Prize to celebrate the voices of this era. It offers a $500 annual cash prize, publication and 50 copies. Learn more at

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