Creative Nonfiction Judge: Jerry Apps
Born and raised on a Wisconsin farm, Jerry is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of more than 45 books—both fiction and nonfiction. He has published seven novels (all from University of Wisconsin Press), the most recent, Cold as Thunder. His recent nonfiction books include Whispers and Shadows, Never Curse the Rain, and Once a Professor. Jerry has completed five hour-long documentaries with Public Television, which include: Farm Story, Farm Winter, The Land, Never Curse the Rain, and One-Room Country Schools. Farm Winter won a regional Emmy award,
Jerry is a former publications editor for the University of Wisconsin-Extension, an acquisitions editor for the McGraw-Hill Book Company, and an editor of a national professional journal. He has won awards for his writing from the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Library Association (the 2007 Notable Authors Award), American Library Association, The Wisconsin Council for Writers (the 2007 Major Achievement Award), and Upper Midwest Booksellers among others. In 2010 he received the Distinguished Service Award from the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s College of Agricultural and Life Science. He was named a Fellow by the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters in 2012, and inducted into the Wisconsin 4-H Hall of Fame in 2014. In 2016, Jerry won the White Cedar Outstanding Teaching Award from The Clearing, where he has taught creative writing for 28 years. http://www.jerryapps.com
Poetry Judge: Bruce Dethlefsen
Wisconsin Poet Laureate (2011-2012), has three full-length books of poetry published. His latest is Small Talk (Little Eagle Press, 2014). Bruce lives in Westfield, WI.
Fiction Judge: Kathie Giorgio
Kathie is the critically acclaimed author of four novels, two story collections and a poetry chapbook. Her fourth novel, In Grace’s Time, was released on 9/7/17. Her first novel, The Home For Wayward Clocks, received the Outstanding Achievement award by the Wisconsin Library Association and was nominated for the Paterson Fiction Award. Learning to Tell (A Life)Time debuted at the 2013 Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books, where Kathie served as Keynote. The story collection, Enlarged Hearts, was selected for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s 99 Summer Must-Reads by in 2012. Rise From The River debuted at Carroll University, where Kathie served as Visiting Author. River was on several “Must-read” lists during the summer of 2015. Oddities & Endings; The Collected Stories of Kathie Giorgio, was selected for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s 100 Must Reads for the Summer list. Giorgio’s short stories and poems have appeared in countless literary magazines and anthologies. She’s been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, the Write Well Award, the Million Writer Award, and for the Best of the Net Anthology. In September 2017, her short story “Snap Dragon”, was presented live on stage for the Stories On Stage series at Su Teatro theatre in Denver, Colorado.
Giorgio’s teaching career spans 22 years. She is the director/founder of AllWriters’ Workplace & Workshop, an international creative writing studio located in Waukesha, Wisconsin.
Humor Judge: Barry Wightman
Born in St. Louis, raised in Chicago and New England, Barry, a business major at good old Principia College in southern Illinois, claims he should’ve been an English major. Living for many years in Chicago and Minneapolis, he raised a family with his wife Jill, and spent thirty years in the high tech industry, traveling the world, spending time in Silicon Valley, with countless trips to Asia, Australia, and much of the rest of the world. After all that, he earned an MFA from the Vermont College of Fine Arts in 2010. He currently serves as the creative director at Forward Health Group, Inc. of Madison, WI.
Barry is past Fiction Editor for Hunger Mountain, a literary journal of the arts based in Montpelier, Vermont. He is a talented voiceover professional and a Wisconsin Broadcasters Association award-winning essayist, whose work has been heard on WUWM Milwaukee Public Radio.
He’s also a reviewer and review editor for the Washington Independent Review of Books. His music and book reviews have also appeared in various publications in Chicago, Milwaukee and Washington D.C. He is a voting member of the National Book Critics Circle.