Engage with Award-Winning Authors this Winter

Shake Rag Alley Center for the Arts announces the 2018-19 Winter Writers-in-Residence Series featuring award-winning Wisconsin writers and poets reading from their work and answering questions on select Wednesday evenings at the Lind Pavilion, 411 Commerce St.

Since 2011, Shake Rag Alley has partnered with the Council for Wisconsin Writers, the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters, Wisconsin People & Ideas magazine and the Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission to offer week-long residencies to their annual writing contest winners. From December through April, contest-winning writers and poets are provided with a week of uninterrupted time in Shake Rag Alley’s inspiring lodging facilities surrounded by the nurturing environment of historic Mineral Point’s artist community. Past writers-in-residence include Chloe Benjamin, New York Times best-selling author of “The Immortalists” and “The Anatomy of Dreams,” and Kathleen Ernst, award-winning author of the Chloe Ellefson mystery series.

Save the date to enjoy the chance to meet and hear from the following award-winning authors during the upcoming free Winter Writers Reading Series:

7 p.m. Dec. 5, 2018: Michael Hopkins, 2018 Wisconsin People & Ideas Fiction Contest Winner

Michael Hopkins, author of the award-winning short story “Static,” was born in Philadelphia. His writing as a book and music critic has appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Weekly, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, The Scene and Magnet. He has a degree in electrical engineering from Drexel University, and has spent 35 years working in diverse research and engineering roles. An extensive world traveler, Hopkins currently lives on a farmette near Neenah with his wife and their dog, cats, and chickens.

7 p.m. Jan. 9, 2019: Matthew Guenette, 2017 Council for Wisconsin Writers Edna Meudt Poetry Book Award Winner

Matthew Guenette, author of the award-winning book “Vasectomania” (University of Akron Press), received an MFA from Southern Illinois University. He is the author of two previous poetry collections: “American Busboy” (University of Akron Press, 2011) and “Sudden Anthem” (Dream Horse Press, 2008) as well as a chapbook, “Civil Disobedience” (Rabbit Catastrophe Press, 2017). Recent work has appeared in Forklift: Ohio, Spoon River Poetry Review, Sou’wester, Southern Indiana Review and TYPO. He lives in Madison and teaches composition and creative writing at Madison College.

7 p.m. Jan. 16, 2019: Ed Werstein, 2017 Council for Wisconsin Writers Lorine Niedecker Poetry Award Winner

Ed Werstein, author of the book “A Tar Pit To Dye In” (Kelsay Books),” lives in Milwaukee and is a regional vice president of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets. He was nearly 60 years old when his muse awoke and dragged herself out of bed. His poems have appeared in over 50 different journals and anthologies. He won the Poetry Society of Michigan’s Margo LaGattuta award in 2015.

7 p.m. March 20, 2019: Matt Cashion, 2017 Council for Wisconsin Writers Edna Ferber Fiction Book Award Winner

Matt Cashion, author of the award winning book “Our Thirteenth Divorce” (Livingston Press), was born in North Wilkesboro, N.C., in the Blue Ridge Mountains, where his first words were mumbled, where his father’s side of the family still lives and where some of his writing is set. Prior to earning an MFA from the University of Oregon, Cashion was an award-winning journalist. After working with facts for two years, he graduated to other jobs such as piano-moving, bartending and third-shift convenience store clerking. He lives now in beautiful western Wisconsin, next to the Mississippi River, where he is happy to be employed as a professor of creative writing and literature at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. He lives with Heather, his partner, and their many wild and domestic animals.

7 p.m. March 27, 2019: Jenna Rindo, 2018 Wisconsin People & Ideas Poetry Contest Winner

Jenna Rindo, author of the award-winning poem “Head, Thorax, and Abdomen,”  is a poet who, along with her husband, has raised five children on 5 acres in Pickett, Wisconsin, where they also tend a small flock of chickens and Shetland sheep. Her poetry and essays have been published most recently in Natural Bridge, Prism Review, Tampa Review and Bellingham Review. An avid runner and biker, Rindo competes in triathlons and road races ranging from the 5K to the marathon. A former pediatric nurse, Rindo now teaches English to non-native speakers.

7 p.m. April 10, 2019: Ronnie Hess, 2017 Council for Wisconsin Writers Kay W. Levin Short Nonfiction Award Winner

Ronnie Hess, author of the winning short nonfiction memoir “Berlin Letters” (Poor Yorick Journal), is a journalist and poet who began a career in broadcast journalism at Wisconsin Public Radio. In the 1980s, she was a reporter/producer for CBS News in Paris, spending nearly four years in France reporting on political, social and cultural issues. After she returned to the Midwest, she worked for Minnesota Public Radio and Chicago Public Radio and was a freelance writer/producer for the “American Justice” series that aired on A&E. Returning to UW-Madison, she became director of communications in the Division of International Studies. During a sabbatical year, from 2004 to 2005, she taught middle school English in France.

She is the author of three poetry chapbooks (“Whole Cloth,” “Ribbon of Sand,” “A Woman in Vegetable”), two culinary travel guides (“Eat Smart in France,” “Eat Smart in Portugal,” Ginkgo Press), and has contributed to many national, regional and local publications including Saveur, The Christian Science Monitor and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. She was restaurant critic for several years for Madison Magazine and a freelance arts critic for The Capital Times.

Also in residence in March 2019 and meeting with Mineral Point High School students is Rachel Davidson Leigh, 2016 Tofte/Wright Children’s Literature Award winner. A teacher, writer and avid fan of young adult LGBTQ fiction, Rachel’s hobbies include overanalyzing television shows and playing matchmaker with book recommendations. She lives in Wisconsin with her family and two neurotic little dogs. “Hold” (Interlude Press) is her debut award-winning novel. Her short story “Beautiful Monsters” was featured in “Summer Love,” a collection of short stories published by Duet Books, the young adult imprint of Interlude Press.