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WWA is honored to congratulate the 2021 Jade Ring Winners! 

Owen Aibric, Lora Hyler, and Kathie Giorgio won in categories of fiction, nonfiction and poetry, respectively. They will each receive an esteemed Jade Ring plus $200.

All Jade Ring Contest finalists and honorable mentions will be published in WWA’s annual Creative Wisconsin Anthologyand receive a complimentary copy of the journal. 

Purchase your Creative Wisconsin Anthology today! 

Meet the Winners

Again by Kathie Giorgio

Kathie is the author of five novels, two story collections, a collection of essays, and two poetry chapbooks. A full-length poetry collection, No Matter Which Way You Look, There Is More To See, was released in 2020. She’s been nominated for the Pushcart Prize in fiction and poetry and awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award from the Wisconsin Library Association, the Silver Pen Award for Literary Excellence, the Pencraft Award for Literary Excellence, and the Eric Hoffer Award In Fiction. She is the director and founder of the international creative writing studio, AllWriters’ Workplace & Workshop LLC. 

Judge's Feedback - In its twenty-two short lines, this poem offers both breadth and depth in its approach to the topics that have been at the center of our national experience for over a year and a half. The poem captures the essence of this double struggle by juxtaposing two succinct lines: We can’t breathe, gasp the COVID victims. / I can’t breathe, gasps the black man.  

Read Kathie's Winning Poem Here. 

Tying the Knot with No End by Owen Aibric

Through a long career of teaching and environmental justice activism, Owen Aibric has always treasured stories of place—be they nature reveries, biographies of environmentalists, fiction where the setting is a character or a driver of conflict, or Prof. John Gleeson’s UW-M Celtic Studies classes. He chooses to write short stories under the pseudonym Owen Aibric because 1) some stories are better told in fiction, 2) He needs to get out of his political-correctness, call-to-action mindset, to write creatively, and 3) He likes to claim his Irish American heritage, especially for the Holy Hill story.

Owen is the progeny of a journalist mother who gave him novels to read to get him through his teenage years. He is the product of great high school English teachers (Wausau) and literature profs at UW Madison, and a veteran of the Redbird and Red Oak writing networks.

Since retiring, he gardens, writes, and encourages Monarchs (the butterfly kind). He and his wife teach reading to grandchildren and great grandchildren, discover hiking trails in the Milwaukee area, and try to stay healthy and be of use.

Judge's Feedback - There were so many incredibly strong pieces in contention for this year’s contest, but one in particular captivated me. Tying the Knot With No End, with its electric prose, immersive and vibrant setting, complex, finely-tuned characters, and expertly-layered subtext stayed with me long after I finished reading. As Abby and Zak teeter on the precipice of their relationship, the story takes on a sort of free-floating melancholy -- a sense that choices not yet made are already being regretted. In doing so, it achieves that elusive effect Eudora Welty says is the prime objective of any great short story: to offer “some fresh approximation of human truth,” which it delivers in spades.  

Read Owen's Winning Story Here. 

The Bill of Rights, One College-educated Negro Man, and a 1955 Protest by 39 White Wauwatosa Women by Lora Hyler

Lora is a past WWA Jade Ring winner and a former reporter for NPR affiliate, WUWM and ABC affiliate, WISN, both in Milwaukee, WI. She also worked for media and energy companies. In 2001, she founded her marketing company, Hyler Communications. She also worked in television for two years on NBC affiliate, Today’s TMJ4.

The Stupendous Adventures of Mighty Marty Hayes is the first in a three-part children’s middle grade series, traditionally published in 2018. The novel has received several awards from the international Eric Hoffer Book Awards, and the Best Book Awards. Book two is underway. Inspired by the Emory Global Health Institute competition, Lora created her new book, Our Bodies Stay Home, Our Imaginations Run Free to help children ages 6-10+ through the Coronavirus pandemic. Published by HenschelHAUS Publishing, the book has garnered national and international publicity.

Judge's Feedback - This impeccably written essay opens with a strong pragmatic statement that includes the time, place, and societal situation. It would be difficult to find anyone who would not want to continue reading at this point. Not only does this essay explore a significant subject, it also allows the reader to perhaps learn something new - whether that be an example of the injustices against people of color at that time or learn of the courage of the white women who supported Mr. Hyler - or both. 

Read Lora's First Place Essay Here. 

To read the first place stories and the rest of the Jade Ring winners order your copy of the Creative Wisconsin Anthology. 

Thank You to Our Judges! 

Erin Celello
Fiction Contest Judge

Erin Celello is an essayist and author of two novels, Miracle Beach and Learning to Stay (Penguin/NAL). She runs The 5th Semester, a story development program designed to help anyone with a book idea go from inspiration to publication, and teaches creative writing for the University of Wisconsin–Whitewater and Drexel University’s MFA program. For more visit and

Laurie Scheer
Nonfiction Contest Judge

Laurie Scheer has assisted writers in the entertainment industry and at institutions of higher learning throughout her diverse career as a producer, consultant, and faculty member. As a professional speaker, she has programmed and appeared at annual writing events nationally and directed the beloved UW-Madison Writers’ Institute conference for over a decade. She has mentored hundreds of writers as they realized their success stories regarding their writing and the publishing of their writing. Laurie has co-founded a writers’ organization dedicated to writing about Nature entitled New Nature Writers. Her personal interest in Nature Writing stems from her love of the American Desert Southwest and from being an avid cyclist and hiker. As an Aquarian, she has always wanted to bestow healing for the globe. She’s currently writing near Joshua Tree National Park and is surrounded by cactus and mountain ranges that have many answers.

Margaret Rozga
Poetry Contest Judge

Margaret Rozga, emeritus professor of English at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee – Waukesha campus and 2019-2020 Wisconsin Poet Laureate, has published four books of poetry. Her work has been published recently or is forthcoming in The Progressive, South Florida Poetry Journal, Mom Egg Review and Wisconsin Magazine of History. Her fifth book of poems, Holding My Selves Together: New and Selected Poem is forthcoming from Cornerstone Press in Spring 2021. She co-edited the anthology Through This Door: Wisconsin In Poems (Art Night Books, 2020).

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