Author Archives: Tessa Terry

Welcome to the 2020 Virtual Celebration of Nebraska Books!

Our Nebraska State Poet, Matt Mason, opens our online event and will be introducing all of our speakers and award winners. In this opening video, we will hear from Nebraska Center for the Book board member, Rebecca Faber, giving our keynote presentation on the 2020 One Book One Nebraska selection “All the Gallant Men: An American Sailor’s Firsthand Account of Pearl Harbor” (William Morrow, 2016) written by Donald Stratton with Ken Gire. The One Book One Nebraska presentation is supported by Humanities Nebraska.

The 2020 Jane Pope Geske Award

Join Matt Mason, as he presents the 2020 Jane Geske Award for exceptional literary contributions, to The UNL Center for Digital Research in the Humanities.

The 2020 Mildred Bennett Award

Join Matt Mason as he presents the 2020 Mildred Bennett Award for exceptional literary contributions by an individual to Kimberly Verhines!

2020 Nebraska Book Award Winners- Children’s Picture Books

State Poet, Matt Mason introduces the 2020 Nebraska Book Award winners for Children’s Picture Books. Hear from winning author Preston Love, for his Children’s Picture Book, “Your Bridge to History” written by Portia Love and Preston Love, Illustrated by Regina Jeanpierre (Preston Publishing, 2019.) The Nebraska Book Awards program, sponsored by the Nebraska Center for the Book (NCB), recognizes and honors books that are written by Nebraska authors, published by Nebraska publishers, set in Nebraska, or concerning Nebraska.

2020 Nebraska Book Award Winner – Cover, Design, and Illustration

State Poet, Matt Mason introduces the 2020 Nebraska Book Award winner for the Cover, Design, and Illustration category. Hear from winning author Debra Kleve White, for her book, “The Spirit of Nebraska: A History of Husker Game Day Traditions – The Tunnel Walk, Mascots, Cheer, and More” design by Concierge Marketing and Publishing Services (Cheerful Books, 2019.)

The 2020 Nebraska Book Award Winners – Fiction

Matt Mason introduces the 2020 Nebraska Book Award winners in the Fiction category. Hear from winning authors Faith Colburn, for her novel, “See Willy See” (Prairie Wind Press, 2019) and Fiction Honor Series winner, Tosca Lee, for her novels “The Line Between: A Thriller” and “A Single Light: A Thriller” (Howard Books, 2019.)

The 2020 Book Award Winners – Poetry

Matt Mason introduces the 2020 Nebraska Book Award winners for Poetry. Hear from winning authors Sarah McKinstry-Brown, for her poetry book, “This Bright Darkness” (Black Lawrence Press, 2019.) and Mark Sanders, winner of a Poetry Honor Award for his book “In a Good Time” (WSC Press, 2019.)

The 2020 Nebraska Books Award Winners – Nonfiction

Matt Mason introduces the 2020 Nebraska Book Award winners in the Nonfiction category. Hear from winning author Carson Vaughan, winner of the Investigative Journalism Award for his book, “Zoo Nebraska: Dismantling of an American Dream” (Little A, 2019.) and Larkin Powell, winner of the Nature Reference Award for his book “Great Plains Birds: Discover the Great Plains” (Bison Books, 2019.)

The 2020 Nebraska Book Award Winners – Nonfiction

Matt Mason introduces more of the 2020 Nebraska Book Award winners for Nonfiction. Hear from winning authors Steve Marantz, winner of the Immigration story Award, for his book, “Citizen Akoy: Basketball and the Making of a South Sudanese American” (University of Nebraska Press, 2019) and Marilyn Irvin Holt, winner of a the Nebraska Perseverance Award for her book “Nebraska During the New Deal: The Federal Writers’ Project in the Cornhusker State” (Bison Books, 2019.)

2021 One Book One Nebraska Announcement & Closing

Join Matt Mason, Rebecca Faber, and Christine Walsh in the final session of the 2020 Celebration of Nebraska Books, as they announce the selection for the 2021 One Book One Nebraska.

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Calling All Poets

Nebraska Writers Guild Poetry Submissions

Grand Island, NE – Poets, in celebration of the Guild’s 95th year, we want you to show us your best work. You can enter up to six poems free of charge. Guild Membership is not required. Our judges ask that you please familiarize yourself with submission guidelines and links found on under News and Events, 2020 Poetry Chapbook. Selected poems will be published fall of 2020 in the NWG’s Verses from the Plains: A Poetry Collection.

Submission deadline: May 30, 2020

Calling All Designers! Are you interested in a chance to design the chapbook covers? Please contact us at for more information or submission questions.

About Nebraska Writers Guild:

What do Willa Cather, Mari Sandoz, and John Neihardt have in common?
They were all members of the Nebraska Writers Guild, one of the oldest writers’ organizations in the country.

MISSION: Nebraska Writers Guild is a nonprofit (501c3) organization dedicated to empowerment and individual growth through involvement with a community of writers and related professionals; promoting authors and the craft of writing through events and publications; and advancement through professional development. For more information please visit or

For more information contact: Poetry Chair, Charlene Pierce
Phone: 402.594.1917 Email:

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#BookFaceFriday – “This is Not the Tropics”

Aruba, Jamaica, ooh I wanna take ya to #BookFaceFriday!

Since it snowed yesterday in much of Nebraska, this title couldn’t be more right. But unlike the fickle ways of Nebraska weather, NLC Book Club Kits never let you down. The Commission’s Book Club Kit service is still running like clockwork, and sending out titles like “This Is Not the Tropics: Stories” by Nebraska author, Ladette Randolph (University of Wisconsin Press, 2005.) While many library services have changed, we realize your book club groups may be functioning a little differently right now. But with book pick-ups and online group discussions, book clubs are still going strong. Of course with your health in mind, we strongly encourage you to keep any in-person book club meetings to ten people or fewer.

“Ladette Randolph’s stories sink their teeth into the deep Nebraska Midwest the way that Flannery O’Connor tore into the heart of Georgia. There’s a wonderfully sly, deadpan sweetness at work here, so that it may take a moment to realize how odd and twisty the stories are. Randolph seems like such a nice, earnestly polite young woman—and then suddenly your wallet is missing and she’s driving away in your car! These are beautifully crafty, beguiling stories: witty, wise, and wicked.”—Dan Chaon, author of You Remind Me of Me and Among the Missing

This week’s #BookFace model is one of our NLC Commissioners, Lois Todd-Meyer!

Love this #BookFace & reading? Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

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#BookFaceFriday “Alexander’s Bridge” by Willa Cather

Sit back and relax, it’s #BookFaceFriday!

You know all those classics you always have to lie about having read? Well now’s your chance to really read them! Nebraska OverDrive Libraries just added a huge selection of classic novels, 1,010 classics including this week’s #BookFaceFriday! “Alexander’s Bridge” (Duke Classics, 2012) by Willa Cather just one of many Cather titles available to all Nebraska OverDrive Libraries in eBook and Audiobook format. 173 libraries across the state share this collection of 16,670 Audiobooks and 28,473 eBooks, with new titles added weekly. As an added bonus it includes 130 podcasts that are always available with simultaneous use.

If your library is a part of it, ask your librarian for more information about participating in Nebraska Overdrive Libraries!

From the book jacket

“Construction engineer and world-renowned bridge builder Bartley Alexander has everything in mid-life: wealth, good looks, and fame. Yet he finds himself restless and discontented with life—until he meets a former love from his student days and resumes his relationship with her.
Living a double life, Alexander is torn between Winifred, his American wife—a cold woman with clearly defined standards—and Hilda Burgoyne, his alluring mistress in London who helps him recapture his youth and sense of freedom. Alexander’s affair, which eventually gnaws away at his sense of propriety and honor, proves disastrous.
Willa Cather’s first novel—a fascinating study of a man’s growing awareness of the breach in his integrity—is essential reading for fans of this great American novelist.”
” … exceptionally well-conceived and well written.”—Outlook
” … told with a good deal of charm and skill.”—New York Times Book Review
” … a story of brilliant and unusual power.”—McClure’s

This week’s #BookFaceFriday model is Rod Wagner, the Director of NLC!

Love this #BookFace & reading? Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

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Partnership, Friends, and Gifting Books

by Oliver B. Pollak

We visited Omaha in October 2018 and stayed with Dave, my law partner from 1987 to 2016, and his wife Chris at their Waterloo lake house. We’re all retired. Their study with a sofa bed doubles as a guest room. We felt at home; the duvet and book ends came from our house. The shelves held several books Karen and I gave them for birthdays, the holiday season and other opportune occasions. I purchase several copies of irresistible books for friends. I still have two copies of The Pun Also Rises (2011) by John Pollack who did a reading at the Bookworm, and Local Wonders: Seasons in the Bohemian Alps (2002) by Poet Laureate Ted Kooser.

I inscribed A Mirror of the World, Three Thousand Years of Books and Manuscripts (2001), acquired at the Schiller-Nationalmuseum, German Literature Archives in Marbach am Neckar, Germany:

July 19, 2002
Dear Chris & Dave
When books matter
And cooking meet
We don’t cook the books
We eat
Love Oliver

The cover of A Mirror of the World is a 1913 galley with Marcel Proust’s corrections of “A la recherché du temps perdu,” (In Search of Lost Time and Remembrance of Things Past). The editor wrote, “Proust was among those writers who continually changed and improved their text, much to the distress of their printers.”

Silent Hills Speak, A History of Council Bluffs, Iowa (2002), by William E. Ramsey and Betty Dineen Shrier, a 7 pound 7-ounce coffee table book, would be heavily out of place in California. I shifted the burden…

To Chris and Dave
This will weigh down your carpet bag
I am sure it has many uses.
Look to the East
And lets all feast.
Love and best wishes

Karen and Oliver
December 14, 2002

Aprons, A Celebration (2001) by Joyce Cheney, A miniature from a UNO exhibition of Aprons.

To Chris 3/30/03.
Here’s to our aprons.

Karen & Oliver

A Year at the Sorbonne, A Proustian Life (2002) by Oliver B. Pollak.

To Chris and Dave Inscriptions, epigrams, epitaphs, epithets, and epitomes. You grow in our estimation daily.

Love, Karen & Oliver 4/7/06

Jim Harrison, The English Major (2008)

To Dave
The curious road ahead
Navigating between
Valentines and rattlesnakes
Seasons greetings
as 2008 turns into 2009


Dave gave a copy to his daughter-in-law Bethany, an Omaha English teacher.

The New World Guide to Beer (1988) by Michael Jackson, another coffee table book.

Dear Chris
Dare we say
Happy Beerthday
All our love

Karen & Oliver
Sept 1, 2016

Moving to California meant downsizing, shedding books. Our retirement home would not house all our books. Storage was out of the question. I sold to Jackson Street Booksellers, students and Lincoln’s Lee Booksellers. We invited Chris and Dave to browse our shelves. Chris picked The Grapes of Wrath. I wrote, September 10, 2016

Dear Chris,
I am so glad you picked this book voluntarily. The book and movie merge in my mind’s memory. It is moving. Class warfare. Climate change. People helping each other. Noble sentiment and deeds. I must have read it in the 1960s. It goes to a new loving home.

Oliver & Karen

My Budapest Diary, In Search of the Motherbook (1997) by Susan Rubin Suleiman and Dinner with Churchill (2011) by Cita Stelzer also graced Dave and Chris’s shelves.

Dave favored me with numerous books, especially at Hanukkah. In December 1995 he supported my interest in George Orwell with the Brothel Boy and Other Parables of the Law (1992) by Morris Norval. It took me until 2015 to read this thoughtful book. I went from my Orwell shelf with gratitude back to Dave in 2016. The gift of Various Positions (1996) a biography of Leonard Cohen, by Ira Bruce Nadel, dramatically expanded my musical tastes. It sits on a shelf in Richmond. Karen and I enjoyed Cohen concerts in Toronto and much closer, in Oakland.


Dave and Chris love camping, first with a trailer and now an RV. They visit national parks including Presidential Libraries. Books need bookmarks, papyrus, leather, or post-its notes. Dave and Chris bought this bookmark at the William J. Clinton Library and Museum in Little Rock.

Dave recalls we occasionally purchased books together, such as On Bullshit by Harry G. Frankfurt (Princeton University Press, 2005, 68 pages, $9.95), which has been translated into at least sixteen languages.

Giving books at joyous junctures reveals regard for one another, friendship and shared interests; food and drink permeate the titles and inscriptions. These association copies may be on the used book market sooner than mid-century.

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Friday Reads: All the Gallant Men by Donald Stratton (with Ken Gire)

Posted on February 28, 2020 by Rod Wagner

All the Gallant Men is the Nebraska Center for the Book’s 2020 One Book One Nebraska selection. Donald Stratton’s memoir stems from his remarkable experience as a naval seaman serving on the USS Arizona. Stratton was among the survivors from the December 7, 1941, Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The book is the only memoir written by a USS Arizona survivor.

Stratton’s book is not one that I would have selected to read on my own. I read it because of its nomination for the One Book One Nebraska program. It didn’t take many pages before appreciating Donald Stratton’s story. It is remarkable and inspiring. The book is much more than an account of the Pearl Harbor attack. Donald Stratton’s life is chronicled from his early years growing up in Red Cloud, Nebraska, joining the Navy following high school, military experience as a seaman. Later, Stratton traveled the world as a skilled commercial diver in the oil industry.

Stratton was severely burned during the Pearl Harbor attack but managed, along with a few others, to climb hand-over-hand on a rope to an adjacent ship, an astonishing feat considering the 70 feet length and the burned hands of the seamen and the fires burning below. The rope was thrown by Joe George, a sailor from the other ship. The rope throw was a heroic act that was never fully rewarded because George disobeyed an order to cut the lines that tied the two ships. Without the rope, these sailors would have perished. Stratton had a long and painful recovery. Even so, he endured and with determination reenlisted in the Navy. Offered a non-combat post, he instead chose to return to a battleship and rejoin the war in the Pacific. 

Donald Stratton’s story is dedicated to preserving the memory of the men aboard the USS Arizona – those that died and those that survived. In Stratton’s words: “I have tried my best to express what I could about what I experienced that day. It isn’t enough, though, because it is only one side of the story. The other side lies an ocean away. When you read a statistic, like 2,403 dead, it says so little. A statistical death is only the skeletal remains of a life. Without flesh and blood; its beating heart or its winking eye; its quick wit or its contagious laugh.”

I hope that many Nebraskans will read All the Gallant Men and that the book will lead to more stories about the experiences and sacrifices of those who serve and have served.

Ken Gire deserves recognition for his collaboration with Don Stratton to bring Stratton’s story to print. How that came about is an interesting story in itself (see writer’s postscript).

Described by family members as a humble and generous man, Donald Stratton passed away on February 15, 2020.

Donald Stratton and Ken Gire. All the Gallant Men: An American Sailor’s Firsthand Account of Pearl Harbor. HarperCollins. 2016.  

This review was posted on the Nebraska Library Commission blog February 28, 2020, see the original post here:

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Submissions for the 2020 Nebraska Book Awards Sought

Celebrate Nebraska’s rich literary tradition with the Nebraska Book Awards. The Nebraska Book Awards program, sponsored by the Nebraska Center for the Book (NCB), recognizes and honors books that are written by Nebraska authors, published by Nebraska publishers, set in Nebraska, or concerning Nebraska. The Awards competition opens every year on March 1st and entries are due by June 30th. Books published in 2019, as indicated by the copyright date, are eligible for nomination. They must be published, have an International Standard Book Number (ISBN), and be bound. Books may be entered in one or more of the following categories: Nonfiction, Fiction, Children/Young Adult, Cover/Design/Illustration, and Poetry. Winners of the 2020 Nebraska Book Awards will be honored at the annual Celebration of Nebraska Books on October 17, 2020. The authors, designers and illustrators, and publishers are invited to give a short reading and speak about their winning books. Please visit the NCB website at for more information and to submit your nomination. Submissions can be made on the NCB website or by mail.

The Celebration of Nebraska Books, free and open to the public, will also honor recipients of the 2020 Jane Geske and Mildred Bennett awards. The Mildred Bennett Award recognizes individuals who have made a significant contribution to fostering the literary tradition in Nebraska, reminding us of the literary and intellectual heritage that enriches our lives and molds our world. The Jane Geske Award is presented to a Nebraska organization for exceptional contribution to literacy, books, reading, libraries, or literature in Nebraska. It commemorates Geske’s passion for books, and was established in recognition of her contributions to the well-being of the libraries of Nebraska. Nominations for these awards are accepted year round at

The Celebration of Nebraska Books is sponsored by Nebraska Center for the Book and the Nebraska Library Commission, with support from Humanities Nebraska, and History Nebraska’s Nebraska History Museum. The Nebraska Center for the Book is housed at the Nebraska Library Commission and brings together the state’s readers, writers, booksellers, librarians, publishers, printers, educators, and scholars to build the community of the book, supporting programs to celebrate and stimulate public interest in books, reading, and the written word. The Nebraska Center for the Book is supported by the national Center for the Book in the Library of Congress and the Nebraska Library Commission.

As the state library agency, the Nebraska Library Commission is an advocate for the library and information needs of all Nebraskans. The mission of the Library Commission is statewide promotion, development, and coordination of library and information services, “bringing together people and information.”

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NCompass Live: 2020 One Book One Nebraska: ‘All the Gallant Men’

Celebrate the 2020 One Book One Nebraska selection, All the Gallant Men, with us on NCompass Live, Wednesday, February 19, 10:00am-11:00am CT. The recording of this FREE NCompass Live webinar is now available via the NCompass Live website.

In this sixteenth year of One Book One Nebraska, Nebraska libraries and other literary and cultural organizations continue to plan activities and events to encourage all Nebraskans to read and discuss the same book. Join us to hear more about this state reading promotion activity, sponsored by the Nebraska Center for the Book, Humanities Nebraska, and the Nebraska Library Commission.

We are very pleased to announce that our 2020 selection is, All the Gallant Men: An American Sailor’s Firsthand Account of Pearl Harbor (William Morrow, 2016) by Donald Stratton, with Ken Gire.

Join Nebraska Library Commission Director Rod Wagner, Nebraska Library Commission Communication Coordinator Tessa Terry, and Nebraska Center for the Book Board Member Becky Faber to:

  • Learn about how to create a successful local reading promotion using Nebraska’s year-long, statewide celebration featuring All the Gallant Men, by Donald Stratton.
  • Brainstorm strategies to read and discuss All the Gallant Men.
  • Find tools to help engage your community in local activities to encourage them to come together through literature to explore this work in community-wide reading programs.
  • Learn about the 2020 Celebration of Nebraska Books, which will celebrate this book, along with the winners of the 2020 Nebraska Book Awards.

Upcoming NCompass Live shows:

  • Feb. 26 – Pretty Sweet Tech – Which Coding Language Should I Learn?
  • March 4 – The Healing Library: Responding to Trauma in Your Community Through Nontraditional Lending
  • March 11- Holiday Break at the Library!

For more information, to register for NCompass Live, or to listen to recordings of past events, go to the NCompass Live webpage.

NCompass Live is broadcast live every Wednesday from 10am – 11am Central Time. Convert to your time zone on the Official U.S. Time website. The show is presented online using the GoToWebinar online meeting service. Before you attend a session, please see the NLC Online Sessions webpage for detailed information about GoToWebinar, including system requirements, firewall permissions, and equipment requirements for computer speakers and microphones.

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#BookFaceFriday – “The Autobiography of Malcolm X”

#BookFaceFriday celebrates Black History Month!

We’re throwing back to one of our first-ever #BookFace photos with “The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As told to Alex Haley” by Malcolm X (Grove Press, 1963.) We originally featured this title as a Nebraska 150 Books List selection, and it’s available in our book club kit collection. Check out this Nebraska Author of color for your book club!

“Malcolm X’s autobiography seemed to offer something different. His repeated acts of self-creation spoke to me; the blunt poetry of his words, his unadorned insistence on respect, promised a new and uncompromising order, martial in its discipline, forged through sheer force of will.”—Barack Obama, Dreams from My Father

“The most important book I’ll ever read, it changed the way I thought, it changed the way I acted. It has given me courage I didn’t know I had inside me. I’m one of hundreds of thousands whose lives were changed for the better.”—Spike Lee

This post was shared from the Nebraska Library Commission Blog. Love this #BookFace & reading? Check out NLC’s past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

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A Letter from our President

Dear Friends of the Nebraska Center for the Book:

What a great year for the Nebraska Center for the Book (NCB)! Thank you for your continued support of NCB and its programs. It was wonderful to see many of you at the Celebration of Nebraska Books in November!

With the close of 2019 we begin a new chapter with the NCB. One of the most notable changes is the move from a print newsletter to the online news blog. This will enable us to keep you up-to-date on NCB news and events in a timely manner. We will introduce you to members of the board, showcase One Book One Nebraska, the Celebration of Nebraska Books, and much more. 

We continue to promote Nebraska writers throughout the state. Each year the NCB celebrates One Book One Nebraska. For 2020 NCB will celebrate, All the Gallant Men by Donald Stratton with Ken Gire. It is the first memoir by a USS Arizona survivor.  Stratton grew up in Red Cloud and talks about how he ended up at Pearl Harbor and what happened after.

We encourage Nebraska youth to both read and write. NCB has received a grant from Humanities Nebraska to encourage student participation in the Letters About Literature Program. This program encourages students to write to the author who has made a difference in their life. 

Thank you for your continued support of the Nebraska Center for the Book! To all of you, who are such dedicated members of the NCB, we ask for your continued support through renewal of your membership in the Center. With a strong foundation the NCB can celebrate Nebraska and all those who read, write, or publish books that enrich our experience as we turn a page and discover new stories. 

For your convenience you are now able to join or renew your NCB membership online via PayPal.

We appreciate your continued support of the Nebraska Center for the Book and those in Nebraska who are reading, writing, and producing books!


Nebraska Center for the Book, President

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