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A Toast to Writers


Fri, May 3rd, 2002
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Monday, April 29, 2001

We held our semi-annual Journal writers get together last week at the Parkway Pub in Lanesboro. Most of the free-lance writers whose stories you read each week often send their work in by e-mail and dont often get the chance to meet with each other.

So, eleven writers, accompanied by a few spouses, hoisted a few brewskis and told lots of stories. I remember laughing a lot. Five other writers had other commitments and werent able to make it.

I couldnt help notice that our literary ranks have risen considerably from when my wife and I took over the paper more than five years ago. The only writer on board at that time was Annabelle Kvam and her Notes from a Country Kitchen.

Back then I was able to convince Al Mathison and Neil Haugerud that they should be telling stories in the Journal on a regular basis. Many of Neils stories in his book Jailhouse Stories had their premier in the Journal, and the rest as they say is history. Now we are up to 16 writers.

Since those two pioneers came on board, the Journal has added the likes of Mary Bell, John Flaherty, Virginia Cooper, Mary Jergenson, Bonnie Prinsen, John Levell, Nancy Overcott, Carol Thoen, Charles Pautler, Mike McGrath, Wayne Pike and Deb Gourley.

Our newest writer appears in this weeks issue. JoAnne Agrimson of rural Utica, who also teaches English at Rushford-Peterson High School, will be writing a column called Prairie Notes. She brings the same qualities we have looked for in all our writers: good writing and a distinct literary voice.

The Journal won a few awards again this year, sweeping the Personal Column division at the 2002 Minnesota Free Paper Association conference in February. Mary Bell (Vignettes), Wayne Pike (Township Roads) and I (People, Places and Things) took the first three places. By the way, Wayne Pike also won a similar award this year from the Iowa Newspaper Association in January.

I also won first place for Feature Story for a piece I did on a trip my son and I made to Ireland in October 2001. This is the fifth year in a row that the Journal has been similarly honored, which says a lot about the writers whose stories appear on these pages.

There wasnt much talk at our gathering about writing assignments or the upcoming schedule in the Journal. After one conversation between Wayne Pike, Bonnie Prinsen and myself, I fully expect an article one of these days from Wayne that will detai .....
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