2020 Oklahoma Book Awards


100 Years
Nathan Brown
Mezcalita Press

Brown’s latest collection takes readers on an incredible American journey with a diversity of travelers: friends, family, strangers, and ourselves experiencing life—growing, self destructing, working, discovering ourselves, connecting with and escaping from family, aging in so many ways, and dying. And waiting to die. Along the way, we discover the value of our days and years. Brown is former Poet Laureate of Oklahoma, a perennial finalist in this category, and winner of the Oklahoma Book Award for his collection Two Tables Over.


Not Quite Pilgrims
Ken Hada
Virtual Artist Collective

Hada’s poetry explores the escape nature provides for our bodies and our souls. We leave the mundane and the ugly (hate and bigotry) to find the river, to go fishing for the first time (and remember it for the rest of our life), notice the brightness of the light, and the beauty of the water “that makes its own way.” Hada reveals that we are all travelers, always looking for home.  He is an award-winning poet and professor at East Central University where he directs the annual Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, an endeavor which earned him the Glenda Carlile Distinguished Service Award, presented by the Friends of the Oklahoma Center for the Book.

Not Quite Pilgrims

An American Sunrise
Joy Harjo
W.W. Norton and Company

Two hundred years after her people were forcibly removed from their original home east of the Mississippi to Indian Territory, Harjo returns to her family lands to engage in a dialogue with the past. Tribal history and personal experience interweave to reveal spiritual connections and new insights. Harjo’s beautiful work educates, engages, and elevates. A multiple-award winning poet, Harjo is a two-time Oklahoma Book Award medalist in poetry, and recipient of the Arrell Gibson Award for Lifetime Achievement. In 2019 she was named the 23rd Poet Laureate of the United States, the first Native American poet to hold that honor.


Red Corn Moon: Songs of the Harvest
Karen Kay Knauss
Peach Tree Press

Knauss focuses on simple things that become exceptional in her beautiful reflections; reflections of each bird, of the dragonfly with its measured time, of two pieces of chipped china full of family memories, and of following her mother for the harvest beneath the red corn moon to find “clarity and sweet reflection.” Knauss is a native Oklahoman who has enjoyed careers as a singer, artist, and author. Her collection Where Once A Willow received the Oklahoma Writers’ Federation Book of Poetry Award in 2017. She lives in Blanchard.


Black Sunday
Benjamin Myers
Lamar University Press

Myers provides a well-researched collection of poems to tell stories of those who were caught in the destruction of the Dust Bowl. He describes the unrelenting horror and provides heartbreaking, unique, and exacting descriptions of people and animals, and of the land “torn open to its God.” A personal and memorable collection that stays with and haunts the reader. Myers is a former Poet Laureate of Oklahoma, and recipient of the Oklahoma Book Award for his collection Elegy for Trains. He is Crouch-Mathis Professor of Literature at Oklahoma Baptist University.