Category Archives: Literary

Maria W. Faust Sonnet Contest Announcements

We are proud to announce that the Maria W. Faust Sonnet Contest is now a project of the River Arts Alliance.

The Maria W. Faust Sonnet Contest is an annual event that welcomes entries from around the world. The contest originated as an extension of the Great River Shakespeare Festival (GRSF). This was a logical first step, considering Shakespeare’s close association with the sonnet form. Winona’s then-Poet Laureate, Professor James Armstrong, and the directorship of the GRSF company launched the first Sonnet Contest in 2008.

In 2012, the contest was renamed in memory of Maria W. Faust: a Winona State University graduate in Communications; a twenty-year resident of Winona; an avid supporter of varied local arts; and a lover of poetry. Maria’s husband, Ted Haaland, took over directorship of the contest and, under his leadership, the contest has grown to reach poets from around the world. In 2019, entries were submitted from 9 countries and 35 U.S. states.

2020 will be a transition year for the Sonnet Contest. Ted Haaland has chosen to step back from his role as director. He will continue as the contest’s benefactor, with the goal of keeping Maria’s love of poetry alive in our community and beyond.

Sonnet Contest founder James Armstrong has assumed the director’s duties. Heidi Bryant will continue as the administrator of the contest, a role she took on in 2016. The contest is now a project of the River Arts Alliance, which will provide organizational support. And the partnership with GRSF continues, as they assist with events and promotion. The system for entering the contest will remain the same.

Entries are now being accepted, with a deadline of June 1st. To learn more or to enter, please visit

The Winona Poetry Walk

The Winona Fine Arts Commission, with the support of the City Staff and Council is launching a public art project The Winona Poetry Walk, consisting of original poetry stamped into sidewalks beginning this Spring, starting in downtown Winona. The Poetry Walk will officially open sometime late summer of 2020. Besides the original placement downtown, in… Continue Reading

Great River Writes: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Writing a Novel

Saturday | November 23 | 10:00-11:00am Winona Public Library Author Chris Norbury will share his overall writing experience and answer questions that readers may hesitate to ask an author: Earnings Costs of Producing and Selling a Book The Hidden Costs of Producing and Selling a Book Entering Contests and Winning Awards Achieving Bestseller Status… Continue Reading

Great River Writes: Frank Bures Jr.

How To Write About Weird Stuff and Make a Living At It Saturday | November 16 | 11:00am-1:00pm Winona Public Library Frank Bures, Jr. is a contributing editor of Poets & Writers Magazine, a columnist at The Rotarian Magazine, and his work has appeared in Harper’s, Outside, Men’s Health, Bicycling, Esquire, Audubon, Scientific American… Continue Reading

Great River Writes: Mark My Words Reception

Friday | November 15 | 5:00-7:00pm Pump House Regional Arts Center The Pump House Regional Arts Center, Great River Writes, and La Crosse Public Library are hosting a reception for Mark My Words 2019. The exhibit will showcase artwork and the short poetry it inspires. Fifteen artists and poets were selected by a group… Continue Reading

Great River Writes: NaNoWriMo Creative Writing and Local Author Fair

Saturday | November 9 | 10:00am-12:00pm Winona Public Library Workshops: 10:10am: Getting Started 10:40am: The How-Tos of Writing a Query Letter to a Literary Agent or Publisher 11:10am: Writing to Heal 11:40am: Pressbooks: Organize and Print Your Own Books Guest Authors Include: Janice Kirk Kathryn Sullivan C.H. Armstrong Andy Schoepp Kaye Henrickson Jodi Vandenberg-Daves… Continue Reading

Poets Laureate to speak at Paperbacks and Pieces

Monday | November 4 | 4:00-5:30pm Paperbacks and Pieces | 429 Mankato Ave Paperbacks and Pieces invites you to an afternoon of poetry with Ken McCullough, Emilio DeGrazia, and James Armstrong along with their host: Ron Riekki, editor of the book Undocumented: Great Lakes Poets Laureate on Social Justice. Focusing on contemporary issues, this text… Continue Reading

Great River Writes: Come Write In

Saturday | November 2 | 9:00am-12:00pm Perkins Restaurant | 9428 Highway 16 | Onalaska, WI November is National Novel Writing Month! Join fellow writers for a community write-in hosted by our local NaNoWriMo liaison, Amy Jo Van Arsdall. Bring your manuscripts, order some breakfast, and start your wordcount out strong with some caffeinated camaraderie.… Continue Reading