Nebraska Poetry Festival
November 16 & 17, 2022


Several well-known poets and writers from across the region will read from their works during a special two-day event to be held in Norfolk and Wayne in November.

The Northeast Community College Visiting Writers Series and Wayne State College’s Plains Writers Series are partnering to sponsor the Nebraska Poetry Festival on Wednesday and Thursday, Nov. 16 and 17, on the institution’s respective campuses in Norfolk and Wayne.

Featured poets and writers schedule to read at the Nebraska Poetry Festival are Matt Mason, Twyla Hansen, JV Brummels, Michael Catherwood, Neil Harrison, Greg Kosmicki, Kiara Letcher, Stephanie Marcellus, Holly Pelesky, Todd Robinson, Marjorie Saiser, Mark Sanders, Barbara Schmitz, Shyla Shehan, Lucy Adkins, William Trowbridge, Scott Abels, Bonnie Johnson-Bartee, Chad Christensen, Lin Brummels, Kelly Weber, and David Wyatt (Schedule & author bios below)

The Nebraska Poetry Festival will be held Wednesday, Nov. 16, from 11 a.m.-3 p.m., in Northeast Community College’s Union 73. The event continues Thursday, Nov. 17, from 11 a.m.-3 p.m., in Wayne State College’s Gardner Hall.

Following the Nebraska Poetry Festival on Nov. 17 will be Poetry Slam 45. The slam will be held at the Max Bar and Grill in downtown Wayne, NE starting at 7:00 p.m., with registration starting at 6:00 p.m. Slam participants need four original poems and $5 registration fee.

All events are free and open to the public. For more information on the Nebraska Poetry Festival, visit or contact: Chad Christensen ([email protected]) Bonnie Johnson-Bartee ([email protected])

NECC (Union 73) event times:

  • 11:15 Twyla Hansen
  • 11:30 Lin Brummels
  • 11:45 Neil Harrison
  • 12:00 BREAK
  • 12:15 Chad Christensen
  • 12:30 Scott Abels
  • 12:45 Marjorie Saiser
  • 1:00 BREAK
  • 1:15 Todd Robinson
  • 1:30 Kiara Letcher
  • 1:45 Lucy Adkins
  • 2:00 BREAK
  • 2:15 Shyla Shehan
  • 2:30 Holly Pelesky

WSC (Gardner Hall) event times:

  • 11:15 Matt Mason
  • 11:30 Kelly Weber
  • 11:45 Rich David Wyatt
  • 12:00 BREAK
  • 12:15 Bonnie Johnson-Bartee
  • 12:30 Michael Catherwood
  • 12:45 Stephanie Marcellus
  • 1:00 BREAK
  • 1:15 JV Brummels
  • 1:30 Barbara Schmitz
  • 1:45 William Trowbridge
  • 2:00 BREAK
  • 2:15 Greg Kosmicki
  • 2:30 Mark Sanders

About the Poets

Twyla M. Hansen’s newest poetry book is Feeding the Fire (2022 WSC Press). She was Nebraska’s State Poet in 2013-2018, and received the 2021 Nebraska Literary Heritage Award, among others. Her previous books won Nebraska Book Awards and WILLA Literary Awards. Her writing is published recently in Prairie Schooner, Briar Cliff Review, South Dakota Review, More in Time: A Tribute to Ted Kooser, Nebraska Poetry: A Sesquicentennial Anthology 1867-2017, and websites Academy of American Poets, Poetry Foundation, Poetry Out Loud, and more. Twyla grew up on land in northeast Nebraska her grandparents farmed as immigrants from Denmark. More


Neil Harrison’s poetry collections include In a River of Wind, Into the River Canyon at Dusk, Back in the Animal Kingdom, and Where the Waters Take You. A collection of new and selected works is presently under consideration. His fiction has appeared most recently in Pinyon Review, Panoplyzine, The Closed Eye Open, and MetaStellar. He lives in Northeast Nebraska.


Marjorie Saiser’s eighth book, The Track the Whales Make: New & Selected Poems, is published by University of Nebraska Press in Ted Kooser’s series of Contemporary Poets and is a finalist for the High Plain Book Award. Saiser’s Losing the Ring in the River (University of New Mexico Press) won the Willa Award in 2014. She has received four Nebraska Book Awards and is co-editor of Times of Sorrow/Times of Grace, a collection of writing by women of the Great Plains, and also co-editor of Road Trip, interviews with a dozen Nebraska writers. Saiser’s work has been published in Prairie Schooner, Alaska Poetry Review, Nimrod, Midwest Quarterly, and American Life in Poetry.


Lucy Adkins grew up in rural Nebraska, attended the University of Nebraska and received her undergraduate degree from Auburn University at Montgomery. Her MFA in Creative Writing is from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. She is a writer of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. Her poetry has been published in many journals and anthologies, and her chapbooks include One Life Shining: Addie Finch Farmwife from Pudding House Press, and Two-Toned Dress, which was the winner of a Blue Light Press Poetry Prize and the 2021 Nebraska Book Award for Poetry. Her first full-length poetry collection, A Crazy Little Thing, is from Wayne State College Press. Lucy has also co-authored two non-fiction books, Writing in Community and TheFire Inside: A Companion for the Creative Life. She was named co-winner of the Lincoln 2020 Mayors Arts Award for Excellence in the Literary Arts.


Matt Mason is the Nebraska State Poet and was Executive Director of the Nebraska Writers Collective from 2009-2022. Through the US State Department, he has run workshops in Botswana, Romania, Nepal, and Belarus. Mason is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize and fellowships from the Academy of American Poets and the Nebraska Arts Council. His work can be found in The New York Times, on NPR’s Morning Edition, in American Life in Poetry, and more. Mason’s 4th book, At the Corner of Fantasy and Main: Disneyland, Midlife and Churros, was released by The Old Mill Press in 2022. Matt is based out of Omaha with his wife, the poet Sarah McKinstry-Brown, and daughters Sophia and Lucia.


Mark Sanders is a native Nebraskan, born in Creighton and raised on the eastern rim of the Sandhills at Ord. He received his B.A. and M.A. degrees at Kearney State College (now U of Nebraska at Kearney) and his first Ph.D. in English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Sanders has taught in Nebraska high schools and in colleges and universities in Nebraska, Missouri, Oklahoma, Idaho, and Texas. In 1979, he began his Sandhills Press imprint, which published early works of numerous Plains and Nebraska writers; Sandhills Press is being relaunched, after being on hiatus for a number of years, Fall 2022. Sanders has edited numerous books, among them A Sandhills Reader: 30 Years of Great Writing from the Great Plains; The Weight of the Weather: Regarding the Poetry of Ted Kooser, and, with co-editor JV Brummels, On Common Ground: The Poetry of William Kloefkorn, Ted Kooser, Greg Kuzma, and Don Welch. His most recent books of poetry are Landscapes, with Horses (SFA Press, 2018) and In a Good Time (WSC Press, 2019). He has two new books in the works, a book of nonfiction and a book of poetry. He was the 2007 recipient of the Mildred Bennett Award for fostering Nebraska’s literary heritage, and he has won four Nebraska Book Awards, a Spur Award, and the Western Heritage Award. Sanders was one of the original participants in the first Nebraska Poetry Festival held at Northeast Community College more than 30 years ago.


William Trowbridge’s ninth poetry collection, Call Me Fool, was published by Red Hen Press in September. He has published over 550 poems in literary periodicals and has given readings, lectures, and workshops at schools, universities, bookstores, and literary conferences throughout the United States. His awards include an Academy of American Poets Prize, a Pushcart Prize, a Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference scholarship, a Camber Press Poetry Chapbook Award, and fellowships from The MacDowell Colony, Ragdale, Yaddo, and The Anderson Center. He is a Distinguished University Professor Emeritus at Northwest Missouri State University, where he was an editor of The Laurel Review/GreenTower Press from 1986 to 2004. He was Poet Laureate of Missouri from 2012 to 2016. He is currently a faculty mentor in the University of Nebraska-Omaha Low-residency MFA in Writing Program. For more information, see his website at


JV Brummels’ collections include Cheyenne Line and Other Poems (selected one of 150 most significant books by Nebraskans), Book of Grass (Nebraska Book Award for Poetry), City at War, frontpew@paradise and most recently All the Live-Long Day. A former schoolteacher, he co-founded with Lisa Sandlin Wayne State College’s Downtown Slam, the longest running poetry slam west of Chicago. He’s also written and published short fiction and a novel. Raised first on a farm and later on a ranch, he was educated at the University of Nebraska and Syracuse University. In 1984 he and his family began a horseback cattle outfit to raise natural, grass-fed beef, which they continue to operate as Lightning Creek Cattle Company.


A native of Alliance, Nebraska, GREG KOSMICKI is a retired social services worker who lives with his wife, Debbie, in Alpine, California. He is founder of The Backwaters Press which has been operated by The University of Nebraska Press since 2018. His poetry has been published in numerous magazines, both print and online, and has been included in thirteen anthologies. He is a 2000 and 2006 recipient of the Nebraska Arts Council’s Merit Award. He is the author of thirteen books and chapbooks of poems. His most recent collection, It’s As Good Here as it Gets Anywhere was a finalist for the 2017 High Plains Book Award. He and Debbie are parents of three children and grandparents of two.


Scott Abels is the author of New City (BlazeVOX) and Rambo Goes to Idaho (BlazeVOX), as well as the chapbooks Nebraska Fantastic (Beard of Bees) and A STATE OF THE UNION SPEECH (Beard of Bees). He teaches English at Northeast Community College.


Kiara Nicole Letcher is poet who currently resides in Omaha, Nebraska. She received her MFA from The University of Nebraska at Omaha in 2014. Her chapbook, Scream Queen, was released October 2019 through The Orchard Street Press. She has also appeared in Green Mountains Review, Plainsongs Magazine, Stone Highway Review, New Bile, Pismire, Villainess Press and Quiet Diamonds.


Holly Pelesky writes poetry, essays, and fiction. She received her MFA from the University of Nebraska. Her prose can be found in The Normal School, Okay Donkey, and Jellyfish Review, among other places. Her collection of letters to her daughter, Cleave, was just released by Autofocus Books. She works in a library and a writing center. She raises boys in Omaha, where they all look forward to living in a house all their own.


Todd Robinson has published two books of poetry, Mass for Shut-Ins (Backwaters) and Note at Heart-Rock (Main Street Rag). His poems and book reviews have appeared in such venues as North American Review, Prairie Schooner, Sugar House Review, Weber—The Contemporary West, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and The Pinch. He is an Assistant Professor in the Writer’s Workshop at the University of Nebraska-Omaha and has taught community writing workshops for students ages 8-80 from Arizona to Ireland.


Shyla Shehan was born in Iowa and has spent the majority of her life in the Midwest. She has an MFA in Writing from the University of Nebraska where she was awarded an Academy of American Poets Prize. Since graduating in 2020, her work has appeared in over 25 journals and anthologies, and her debut poetry collection, Unsuspecting Cinderella, was released by Finishing Line Press earlier this year. Shyla lives in Omaha with her husband, children, and four cats and currently splits her time between managing a healthy household and running a nonprofit literary journal, The Good Life Review. Her full bio and an account of her published work are available at


Lin Marshall Brummels grew up on a quiet family farm at the edge of the Nebraska Sandhills. She was a disaster on a tractor but loves animals and currently boards horses with a little help from family. She earned a Psychology BA from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a MS in Rehabilitation Counseling from Syracuse University. Brummels is a Nebraska licensed mental health counselor in private practice. She’s published poems in journals, magazines, and anthologies. Her poetry chapbooks are Cottonwood Strong and Hard Times, a 2016 Nebraska Book Award winner. Her 2021 full-length collection is A Quilted Landscape.


Kelly Weber (she/they) is the author of We Are Changed to Deer at the Broken Place (forthcoming Tupelo Press, December 2022) and You Bury the Birds in My Pelvis, winner of the 2022 Omnidawn First/Second Book Prize (forthcoming October 2023). She is the reviews editor for Seneca Review. Their work has appeared or is forthcoming in a Best American Poetry Author Spotlight, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Southeast Review, Salamander, The Journal, Passages North, Foglifter, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from Colorado State University and lives with two rescue cats. More of their work can be found at


Barbara Schmitz taught writing and literature at Northeast College for thirty years and initiated and ran the Visiting Writers Series and the student magazine Voices From Out of Nowhere. Two of her books have won the Poetry Award from Nebraska Center for the Book and she is a recipient of an Individual Artist Award from the Nebraska Arts Council. She has had two poems selected for Nebraska Life in Poetry, newspaper column initiated by Ted Kooser, and one, “Uniforms”, was also performed in the nude (by an acting troupe) during the Omaha Writing Festival. She has studied with John Neihardt, William Stafford and was an apprentice to Allen Ginsberg at Naropa Institute, helping him assemble his notebooks. She is the Poet of Highway 81 where she lives with her husband Bob (What Bob Says—Some More) writing to the sighing and whizzing of the traffic for over half her life. Latest Book: Sundown at Faith Regional (Pinyon).


David Wyatt was born in Southern California a year before the end of World War II, spending his childhood and early twenties in the Golden State, an agricultural and horticultural paradise well into the Fifties. Before and after time in the US Army in the mid-Sixties, Wyatt attended San Diego State, the University of Nebraska, Omaha, and the University of Oregon, where he held a graduate teaching fellowship in creative writing. He has also lived in Illinois, Long Island and Seattle, working (and not working) various jobs. He has been employed at UNO’s Criss Library since 1996. Wyatt was awarded a Distinguished Merit Fellowship from the Nebraska Arts Council in 2006, and won the inaugural Loraine Williams Poetry Prize from The Georgia Review in 2013. He has published poems in ABZ, The Christian Science Monitor, Prairie Schooner, Natural Bridge, The Georgia Review, Chiron Review, The Cafe Review, Omaha Magazine and Poetry East. He lives in Lincoln with his wife, Susan. Gathering Place is his first full-length collection of poetry.


Michael Catherwood‘s awards include a Nebraska Arts Council Grant, Pushcart Nomination, The Holt Prize for Poetry, and Finalist for the Ruth Lily Prize. His books are Dare, If You Turned Around Quickly, and his latest book Projector from Stephen F. Austin Press. He is former editor at The Backwaters Press and has been Associate Editor at Plainsongs since 1995. Recent poems have appeared in The Common, Pennsylvania English, I-70 Review, and Common Ground Review. He’s a cancer survivor, recently retired, and lives in Omaha with his wife Cindy.


Stephanie A. Marcellus is a professor of English at Wayne State College. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Colorado State University and a PhD in Nineteenth-Century British Literature from The University of South Dakota. Her work has appeared in Plainsongs, Three Drops from a Cauldron, Alligator Juniper as well as in other journals and anthologies. Her chapbook, What Is Left Behind: Garden Elegies, was published by Finishing Line Press.


Bonnie Johnson-Bartee is the author of two chapbooks of poetry, Bildungsroman 38 (2004) and Named, but Unknown (2006), and is the editor of Teachers College: Essays on the Art of Education (WSC Press, 2007). Her work can be found in Words Like Rain (WSC Press, 2005) and editions of Voices Out of Nowhere and Judas Goat. She teaches creative writing and literature courses at Wayne State College in Wayne, Nebraska, and at Northeast Community College in Norfolk, Nebraska, where she also serves as the coordinator of the Visiting Writers Series and is the faculty editor of Northeast Community College’s annual Voices Out of Nowhere.


Chad M. Christensen is the managing editor of the WSC Press, director of the Plains Writers Series, and an associate professor at Wayne State College, where he teaches publishing and creative writing. His books of lo-fi poetry are Ground Bound and Shoot from the Hip (Pseudo Poseur Productions), and his latest poems have appeared in Sugar House Review and Plainsong. He also writes a column for The Big Smoke called “Boy with Shovel.”