Michigan Writers Cooperative Press (MWCP) is proud to announce the winners of our annual chapbook competition. This year we received many excellent manuscripts and are excited to publish two winners in two different genres.
Ruth Zwald’s Bones and Breath was named the poetry winner. In creative nonfiction, Melissa Seitz is the winner for her memoir, Brain Aura Blues.
These chapbooks will be published and released at a celebratory reading and reception on Sunday, June 9, 2024, at 7 p.m. This event, which is free and open to the public, will take place at the Writing House of the campus of the Interlochen Arts Academy to kick off the annual Writers Retreat. Mark your calendars and join us to celebrate the work of these fine writers.
Words have always been a focus in Ruth Zwald’s life. From high school forensics to a spoken word choral group in college, to her professional life as pastor and social worker –words have been honored. When an astrologer told Zwald several years ago she had no “earth” in her birth sign, she set about to find ways to ground. Zwald plants gardens and helps raise sheep and chickens on her farm in West Michigan. She became a student of indigenous spirituality and now never misses a solstice or equinox turning. Zwald also began digging up words like she digs potatoes – unearthing thoughts and reconnecting to the creative and healing use of language.
You can find out more about Zwald on her website: www.spiritlinkservices.com

Zwald’s Bones and Breath was selected by poetry judge Anita Skeen. Skeen has published six volumes of poetry and is Professor Emerita in the Residential college in the Arts and Humanities at Michigan State University. She has taught classes on Appalachian literature, and in her founding of a center for poetry at MSU, worked to create programming that brought the university and community together. Her poetry, short fiction, and essays have appeared in numerous literary magazines and anthologies. Bones and Breath, Skeen notes, “takes us on a spiritual journey that begins with the death of (Zwald’s) father and concludes with what she believes it will be like ‘when it is my turn to go. . . .She joins her ancestors with this collection of poems, preserving their bones and stories through poetry.”

Raised in Dodge City, Kansas, Melissa Seitz completed her graduate studies at Michigan State
University. She taught composition, literature, and creative writing for many years at Saginaw
Valley State University, where she also served as the student editor and faculty advisor of the
award-winning publication Cardinal Sins. A writer of fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction,
Seitz is also a photographer. Her written and visual art has been published in numerous
venues. She is currently revising her memoir Lost in Time in Michigan. Seitz lives with her
husband, Jim, on Higgins Lake, Michigan.

Seitz’s Brain Aura Blues was chosen by nonfiction judge Christine Maul Rice. Rice’s novel-in-stories Swarm Theory is the recipient of numerous awards, including an Independent Publisher Book award and a National Indie Excellence Award. Rice founded and is the executive director of the literary arts nonprofit Hypertext Magazine & Studio and is the editor of Hypertext Magazine. She currently teaches creative writing at Valparaiso University and has served as faculty at conferences, including the Interlochen Writers Retreat. Rice says Seitz writes with “remarkable humor and candor. . . (Brain Aura Blues) “investigates the mysteries of illness, the crippling whirlwind of grief, and the ways we reclaim, as best we can, the glories of life unfurling all around us.”

Established in 2006, the MWCP seeks to recognize emerging writers by publishing limited edition chapbooks. Past winners have gone on to receive fellowships, residencies, and have their full-length collections accepted for publication at larger presses. For more details about Michigan Writers or the annual chapbook contest, visit www.michwriters.org.

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