FARMINGTON —The University of Maine at Farmington is proud to announce that two of its distinguished faculty have been named individual finalists for the 2023 Maine Literary Awards.

Gretchen Legler. Submitted photo

Gretchen Legler, author and UMF professor of Creative Writing, has been recognized twofold for her memoir, “Woodsqueer: Crafting a Sustainable Rural Life,” receiving both the Maine Literary Book Award for Memoir and the John N. Cole Award for Maine Nonfiction.

“It’s an incredible honor to be recognized by my writerly peers in Maine with these two awards. It’s also a delight to be in the company of my colleagues, theater professor Jayne Decker, who won the award for drama, and also Lewis Robinson and Pat O’Donnell, both UMF fiction professors, whose work was featured in the anthology award winning book breaking bread. Maine has a rich literary community. Many thanks to the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance for bringing us all together to celebrate,” said Legler.

Legler’s book chronicles her experiences focusing on building a home and making a living and a life on 80 acres in backwoods Maine. Her book is a homage to agrarian American life that reminds us of the benefits of living close to the land.

Jayne Decker Submitted photo

Jayne Decker, playwright, director, author and UMF principal lecturer for Theater, was awarded the Maine Literary Drama Award for her play, “All the Good They Gave Us.”

Decker’s most recent work, “All the Good they Gave Us,” is a full-length play that offers a gentle and moving exploration of the relationship between an Irish father and his adult daughter. When their former neighbors return to the house next door, they are all forced to confront a family secret that binds them together.

“Over the years my classes and students in Social and Political Theatre have been an inspiration in my commitment to telling stories with a significant focus on social justice. My plays include “Bridge,” based on the story of Maine’s Charlie Howard and one recently produced by Skowhegan High School’s award winning drama program,” said Decker. “It is wonderful to be honored by the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance for “All the Good They Gave Us,” a play I hope will resonate on stage.”

The John N. Cole Award for Maine Nonfiction was also awarded to Deborah Joy Corey and Debra Spark for, “Breaking Bread: Essays from New England on Food, Hunger, and Family.” This anthology includes over 70 essays by renowned New England writers, including current and former UMF faculty authors: Wes McNair, Pat O’Donnell, Lewis Robinson and Bill Roorbach.

The Maine Literary Awards is an annual competition sponsored and coordinated by the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Nominations are open to all Maine residents (including part-time seasonal residents). The statewide competition is for published books, as well as drama, short works (either published or unpublished) and student writing.

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