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Karl Elder, Lakeland College's Fessler Professor of Creative Writing, has been named the recipient of the Christopher Latham Sholes Award by the Council for Wisconsin Writers for outstanding encouragement of Wisconsin writers.
Elder, a member of Lakeland's faculty since 1979, was honored for his long history of mentoring and showcasing the work of Wisconsin writers, especially in coordinating the college's Great Lake Writers Festival, which started in 1991 and will celebrate its 14th year in the fall.
The award includes a $500 prize and a week-long writer's residency at Shake Rag Alley or Maplewood Lodge in Mineral Point. Awards were decided by out-of-state judges and will be presented at a May 12 Awards Luncheon at the Wisconsin Club in Milwaukee. The public is cordially invited to attend and celebrate Wisconsin's fine writers.
In addition to the GLWF, Elder has logged countless hours nurturing and assisting writers from all over the world.
He has been the editor of the literary publication "Seems" for more than three decades. "Seems," which was started in 1971 by students at Northern Illinois University, recently published its 46th edition. It collects essays, short stories, poetry and other works. A number of Elder's Lakeland students have served in leadership roles on the publication over the years.
Elder has paved the way for numerous students to go on to graduate school, written dozen of letters of recommendation and provided independent editing and advice on numerous works.
He has also worked with young teens seeking their communications merit badge from the Boys Scouts of America. Elder is a member of the National Eagle Scout Association and earned the prestigious Vigil Honor of the Order of the Arrow.
Elder said his work with other writers is an extension of his devotion to helping people realize their potential and strive for excellence, and his personal theory of education that has imagination as its cornerstone.
"We're trying to prepare persons for the future," Elder said. "Imagination is a survival tool they have to be able to anticipate problems. One way they can do that is through literature. It's efficient, portable and it forces people to make their own pictures, whether they're a writer or reader. The business of making pictures develops their imagination which can help people identify problems and live quality lives."
Among Elder's previous honors are a Pushcart Prize; the Chad Walsh, Lorine Niedecker, and Lucien Stryk Awards; and two appearances in The Best American Poetry. His most recent collections are "Gilgamesh at the Bellagio" from The National Poetry Review Award Book Series and "The Houdini Monologues," appearing as a chapbook and accompanying CD from Word of Mouth Books, the imprint of his magazine, "Seems."
Several of his poems, including audio recordings, may be accessed at the Beloit Poetry Journal and qarrtsiluni websites. He is also facilitator of the Mead Public Library's Poetry Circle.
More about the winners, names of the out-of-state judges and information for reserving a place at the May 12 Awards luncheon ($28; reservations required by May 7) is at the Council for Wisconsin Writers website at www.wiswriters.org.
CWW is a non-profit organization founded in 1964 to promote awareness of Wisconsin's literary heritage.