Kay Sexton Award
The Kay Sexton Award is presented annually to an individual or organization in recognition of long-standing dedication and outstanding work in fostering books, reading and literary activity in Minnesota. The award honors Kay Sexton, a book buyer for many years at Dayton’s and B. Dalton Bookstores in the Twin Cities. She was the first recipient of the award in 1988. The Kay Sexton Award is sponsored by Common Good Books.
Nominees may include but are not limited to publishers, booksellers, teachers and leaders of literary organizations. Authors and writers are eligible to be nominated, although the Sexton Award is for overall contributions to Minnesota’s book community, and is not an award for writing. Anyone is eligible to submit a nomination using the Kay Sexton Award nomination form available on this website. The Sexton Award panel determines the winner based on careful review and consideration of all nominations. Click here for guidelines and forms.
Robert Hedin, founding director of the Anderson Center for Interdisciplinary Studies, will be honored with the Kay Sexton Award on Saturday, April 13 at the 25th annual Minnesota Book Awards Gala presented by Marvin Windows and Doors. The Sexton Award is presented annually to an individual or organization in recognition of long-standing dedication and outstanding work in fostering books, reading, and literary activity in Minnesota. This award honors Kay Sexton, a book buyer for many years at Dayton’s and B. Dalton Bookstores in the Twin Cities. She was the first recipient of the award in 1988. The Sexton Award is sponsored by Common Good Books.
The Anderson Center, an estate set on 330 acres in Red Wing, Minnesota, provides a residency program for writers and artists from the United States and abroad to work and live on site, and is committed to promoting arts in the larger community. “Whether Robert Hedin is tending to the immediate needs of the current residents, planning future literary events, working with the greater community on arts outreach, or promoting the work of Minnesota writers, his leadership and generosity set the tone for the Anderson Center,” says Sheila O’Connor, Minnesota author and Hamline University Assistant Professor.
Under Hedin’s direction, the Anderson Center, now in its 18th year as the largest artist community in the Upper Midwest, hosts several literary events throughout the year where readers and writers gather, including the widely attended Celebration of Minnesota Children’s Authors and Illustrators held in September. In addition to directing the Anderson Center, Hedin has been the co-editor of The Great River Review, the oldest continuously published literary journal in Minnesota since 1997.
The recipient of numerous awards for his writing, including two Minnesota Book Awards, Hedin is the author, translator and editor of nearly two dozen books of poetry and prose published by such presses as Copper Canyon Press, University of Arizona, University of Iowa, and Southern Illinois University. He edited Where One Voice Ends Another Begins: 150 Years of Minnesota Poetry, published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press in 2007 in honor of the state’s sesquicentennial.
Allan Kornblum named 2012 Kay Sexton Award recipient for contributions to Minnesota’s book community
February 24, 2012, SAINT PAUL, MN – Allan Kornblum, founder and senior editor of Minneapolis-based Coffee House Press, will be honored with the Kay Sexton Award on Saturday, April 14 at the 24th annual Minnesota Book Awards Gala presented by Marvin Windows and Doors. Throughout his trailblazing, 40-year career in publishing, Kornblum has exemplified everything the Sexton Award stands for. “Allan has come to represent, both to those within publishing and those outside it, the spirit of independence and the single-minded pursuit of artistic integrity,” said Fiona McCrae, Director and Publisher of Graywolf Press.
In 1973, Kornblum founded a small mimeograph periodical in Iowa City, Iowa that evolved into Toothpaste Press, a publishing house specializing in the production of high-quality poetry and short fiction letterpress chapbooks.
Kornblum’s affiliation with the vibrant Minnesota publishing scene began in the mid-1980s, when he transferred operations from Iowa to Minneapolis. In addition to that change of venue, Kornblum renamed and reincorporated the organization as a non-profit, Coffee House Press.
At a time when loose editing and
production standards were the norm, Kornblum made strides toward the
professionalism that typifies the industry today. That included shifting from
letterpress to offset printing, using computerized typesetting, and improving
the marketing and distribution of new titles. Those changes allowed Coffee
House to reach a wider audience, which in turn allowed showcased authors – who
may not have gained traction in the larger New York world of publishing – the
opportunity to find the readers they deserved.
Coffee House is now among the premier non-profit publishers of its size in the country. To date, it has published more than 300 books – with 250 of those titles still in print. Its repertoire includes eight past Minnesota Book Award winners, the 2009 Readers’ Choice Award recipient (Kao Kalia Yang’s The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir), and two National Book Award finalists: Patricia Smith’s Blood Dazzler in 2008, and Karen Tei Yamashita’s I Hotel in 2010. At present, the press publishes between 15 and 20 new titles each year and receives upwards of 3,000 submissions annually.
In 1997, Allan received an American Book Award for his contributions to literature and publishing. In summer 2011, after a gradual transition period, Kornblum passed many of his day-to-day tasks to successors within the organization. However, he is still very much involved with its continued success as senior editor and ex officio member of the board of directors.
Kornblum will receive the Kay Sexton Award at the 24th annual Minnesota Book Awards Gala on Saturday, April 14 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel – Saint Paul Riverfront. Awards will also be presented in eight book categories, as well as the Readers’ Choice Award, sponsored by the Pioneer Press and TwinCities.com; the Book Artist Award, sponsored by the Lerner Publishing Group; and the inaugural Hognander Minnesota History Award, supported by the Hognander Family Foundation.
In the News:
Books: Coffee House Press’ Kornblum “thrilled” by Kay Sexton
Pioneer Press, February 27, 2012, by Mary Ann Grossmann
Allan Kornblum was still smiling Monday after being told last week he won the Minnesota Book Awards Kay Sexton award. Kornblum, founder/senior editor of Minneapolis-based Coffee House Press, earned the honor for nearly 30 years of dedication to the Minnesota literary community and fostering books and reading. “I am thrilled about this,” Kornblum said. “It's a nice plus in a rough period since I’ve been undergoing monthly chemo for leukemia.” With four treatments left, Kornblum says he hasn't had any bad effects, although he gets tired. READ MORE>>
Coffee House Press' Allan Kornblum receives Kay Sexton Award
MPR's State of the Arts - February 24, 2012 by Marianne Combs
Allan Kornblum, the founder and long-time editor-in-chief of Coffee House Press, will be honored for his dedication to fostering books and reading at this year's Minnesota Book Awards in April. Kornblum only recently stepped down from his leadership position at the press, which is one of the most successful independent literary presses in the country. He is still on staff in the position of senior editor. READ MORE>>
Coffee House founder winner of Sexton Award
Star Tribune, February 24, 2012, by Laurie Hertzel
It all started, Allan Kornblum says, with a kick in the butt. Back when he was in college in New York, he helped collate the pages of a poetry magazine, and then went to the editor and asked if he could show him some poems. "And the editor kind of stared off in the distance and said, 'I've always thought poetry should be as hard to break into as the longshoreman's union,'" Kornblum said. Unfazed by the rejection, he decided, "I'm going to start a little magazine.'" READ MORE>>
Carol Connolly, a mentor, advisor, literary program coordinator, community activist, and Saint Paul’s first poet laureate was honored with the Kay Sexton Award on April 16, 2011 at the 23rd annual Minnesota Book Awards Gala presented by RBC Wealth Management. In the words of Carolyn Holbrook, 2010 winner of the Kay Sexton Award, “Carol’s commitment to literature spans several decades and cuts across the many invisible lines that tend to divide us: age, race, economics, political affiliation, gender and sexual orientation.” Connolly works tirelessly for the betterment of the literary community and the community at large. She is committed to supporting other writers, exposing readers to diverse literary voices, and bringing poetry to the streets.
For thirteen years, Connolly has coordinated and hosted the Third Tuesday reading series now held at the University Club. Her goals for the monthly program include sparking curiosity about new writers and books, making literature more democratic, and raising funds for organizations by passing the hat at the monthly events.
The current recipient of the Third Tuesday donations is the Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk project. This project literally brings the written word to people on the streets by imprinting poetry by local poets in concrete as the City goes about its normal business of repairing broken sidewalks. Says Marcus Young, lead artist for Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk, “Carol has been an unrelenting supporter, an advisor, and overall guardian angel. She has served on the contest selection panel all three years and has been instrumental in gaining media attention and community involvement for the project.” To date, the program has created 367 installations of a collection of 31 poems.
As Saint Paul’s poet laureate, a lifetime appointment from Mayor Chris Coleman made in 2006, Connolly brings poetic perspective to government events. In 1985, Connolly published her first book of poems, Payments Due. These poems were then adapted into a play that ran for two years in California and two years in Minnesota. Her latest work, All This and More: New and Selected Poems, was published in 2009.
More than a writer and local champion of the local literary community, Connolly is also a political activist for social justice in areas such as human rights, women’s rights, and the peace movement. She has served as chair of the Saint Paul Human Rights Commission, co-chaired the Minnesota Women’s Political Caucus, coordinated DC Comic’s Wonder Women Foundation, and served as a Minnesota Racing Commissioner.
Carolyn Holbrook named 2010 Kay Sexton Award winner
Carolyn Holbrook, a community leader, teacher, advocate, mentor and innovator, was honored with the Kay Sexton Award at the 22nd annual Minnesota Book Awards gala in 2010. Since the early 1980s, Holbrook’s vision has been to promote the inclusion of disparate voices in the global community. She remains committed to writers, readers and spoken word artists - reaching out to individuals and communities whose access to opportunities for exploration of writing is limited or nonexistent. Holbrook’s work reaches across and connects arts organizations, schools, individual artists, and neighborhoods.
Andrea Gilats, Director of LearningLife at the University of Minnesota, spoke of Holbrook’s impact on Minnesota’s literary community as she presented the award: “Carolyn believes that if we see a need, we can work to meet it. She is an inspirational example of what it means to have an indomitable spirit. Her instinctive, respectful practice of cultural entrepreneurism, her remarkable persistence, and her sheer joy in seeing others grow and thrive are lessons in living for us all. By consistently choosing affirmation, optimism, and progress over anger, complacency, and exclusion, Carolyn has created models for people and communities everywhere.”
Holbrook was the founder and director of The Whittier Writers’ Workshop from 1979 to 1986 where she developed the first mentorship program for African American writers in the Twin Cities. From 1989 to 1993 she served as the Program Director at The Loft Literary Center, and from 2005 to 2007 she was Education Coordinator at the Givens Foundation for African American Literature where she developed and managed a writers-in-the-schools program. In 1993, she founded SASE: The Write Place, an organization dedicated to making the literary arts accessible to a diverse community. Holbrook served as SASE’s Executive Director until 2006 when she spearheaded the organization’s successful merger with Intermedia Arts.
Other organizations benefiting from Holbrook’s involvement include the Minnesota Book Awards, Minnesota State Arts Board, Rain Taxi Review, Everyday Sidewalks on City Streets, Minnesota Literature Network, Interact Center for the Visual and Performing Arts, Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, and Blacklock Nature Sanctuary. She teaches in the English departments at Hamline University and Minneapolis Community and Technical College.
For more information on the Minnesota Book Awards or to make a gala reservation, explore our website or call 651-222-3242.
2009 Kay Sexton Award winner: Patrick Coleman, Acquisitions Librarian at the Minnesota Historical Society, mentor, collector and blogger.
Patrick Coleman was honored with the Kay Sexton Award on April 25 at the 21st annual Minnesota Book Awards gala.
As Acquisitions Librarian at the Minnesota Historical Society (MHS), where he has worked for the last thirty years, Coleman identifies, selects, and procures books for the Library. He is considered both a pioneer and classicist. Coleman has expanded the horizons of collecting, making the MHS Library’s collection a vital resource for all users: academics, family historians, students, businesses, and government. He has developed the premiere collection of books and printed material about Minnesota available in the world. Through his work, the MHS Library is one of the preeminent research libraries in the region and nation. Coleman collects the typical and necessary local histories along with the new examples of current literature, artist books, and amazing rare pamphlets and maps.
Through his deep working relationships with scholars, authors, publishers, donors, and book artists, Coleman continues to make huge contributions to the overall Minnesota book community. He works with dealers and booksellers to facilitate the acquiring of books. He has close relationships with public libraries, and has served on the University of Minnesota’s Friends of the Library Board. Coleman currently serves on the Coffee House Press board, served on the Minnesota Humanities Commission board, and is a long-time member of both the Ampersand Club and the Manuscript Society. He writes the 150 Best Minnesota Books Blog, originally begun in honor of the state’s sesquicentennial, highlighting books which are important to the intellectual life and identity of the state.
Minnesota author Patricia Hampl says this of Coleman’s contributions to the state’s book community, “Pat is deeply committed to community service – so much so he doesn’t even call it that. He just has an instinct and manages to pull people together in the interest of books and reading.” Coleman believes in the strength of members of Minnesota’s book community functioning together and working toward one goal: promoting learning through the written word. Congratulations on winning this prestigious award, and thank you, Pat!
In the News:
Sexton Award winner Coleman binds love of books and history
By Mary Ann Grossmann, Pioneer Press - March 3, 2009
Patrick Coleman knew when he was a teenager that he wanted to be the Minnesota Historical Society's acquisitions editor. Coleman got his dream job 30 years ago, and he's done it so well he'll be honored by the Minnesota Book Awards with the 2009 Kay Sexton Award for outstanding dedication to books and the local literary community. READ MORE...
2011 Carol Connolly, mentor, advisor, literary program coordinator, community activist and Saint Paul's first poet laureate.
2010 Carolyn Holbrook, founder of SASE: The Write Place, community leader, teacher, advocate, mentor and innovator, former Program Director at The Loft Literary Center.
2009 Patrick Coleman, blogger, literary activist and acquisitions librarian, Minnesota Historical Society
2008 Don Leeper, founder and president of BookMobile, a pioneer in Print On Demand. Instrumental in the founding of Minnesota Bookbuilders, a nonprofit association promoting bookmaking and publishing.
2007 Emilie Buchwald, publisher, Milkweed Editions and Gryphon Press, former board member and chair of The Loft Literary Center
2006 Richard Robbins, director of the creative writing program at Minnesota State University (MSU), Mankato and the Good Thunder Reading Series
2005 Marly Rusoff, founder of The Loft Literary Center
2004 Dr. Julian Plante, founding director, Hill Monastic Manuscript Library
2003 John "Jack" Parker, curator, James Ford Bell Library at the University of Minnesota
2003 Karen Nelson Hoyle, curator, Children's Literature Research Collections, including the Kerlan Collection and the Hess Collection, at the University of Minnesota
2002 Harry Lerner, publisher, Lerner Publishing Group
2001 Jolie Lynne Sasseville & James Drey Alzheimer, co-founders of Stone House Press and organizers of literary arts programs in Otter Tail County (presented posthumously)
2000 Jeanne Fischer, book reviewer, book discussion leader, library volunteer
1999 Gail See, Bookcase bookstore and literary organization boards
1998 C.W. "Bill" Truesdale, publisher, New Rivers Press
1997 Gov. Elmer L. Andersen, book collector and bibliophilanthropist
1996 Harold Kittleson, bibliophile and library benefactor
1995 Norton Stillman, book wholesaler, bookstore owner and publisher
1994 Glenda Martin & Mollie Hoben, founders, Minnesota Women's Press
1993 David Unowsky, owner, Ruminator Bookstore
1992 Doris Pagel, editor, Authors and Illustrators as Program Resources
1991 The Charles and Gertie Geck Family, promoters of children's books and authors
1989 Mary Ann Grossmann, books editor, St. Paul Pioneer Press
1988 Kay Sexton, book buyer and promoter of books and reading, B. Dalton
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Please return the completed form no later than Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 5 p.m. to:The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library
325 Cedar Street, Suite 555
Saint Paul, MN 55101-1055
The Minnesota Book Awards is a project of The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library, in consortium with the Saint Paul Public Library and the City of Saint Paul. Outreach partners and supporting organizations include: MELSA, Minnesota Center for Book Arts, Minnesota Department of Education—State Library Services, and Minnesota Educational Media Organization.