Merriam-Frontier Award Winners to Read at UM’s Mansfield Library

February 19, 2015

MISSOULA – University of Montana Creative Writing Program graduate students Jolene Brink and JP Kemmick were selected to receive this year’s Merriam-Frontier Award.

The students will read their award-winning submissions from 4:10 to 5 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 27, in the Mansfield Library Theta Rho Room. The reading is free and open to the public.

Brink, a poetry graduate student, grew up in northern Minnesota and received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the College of St. Benedict. Her work has appeared in Postroad, WomenArts Quarterly Journal and Dislocate. As a result of her submission for the Merriam-Frontier Award, Red Bird offered to publish her forthcoming poetry chapbook, “Peregrine.”

Kemmick, who will receive his master’s degree in fiction in May, grew up in Billings and received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Pacific Lutheran University. He has been published in Beecher’s, Barrelhouse, A Capella Zoo and Camas magazines, and elsewhere. Kemmick recently completed a novel about runaways, drugs, sex and mermaids in western Montana.

The judges, local writers Lois Welch, Bridget Carson and Ginny Merriam, said they selected Brink’s work because “her wide-ranging and nimble poems allow mystery around the subject of loss and death.” They also said, “they are original in conception and mature in craftsmanship.”

The judges chose Kemmick’s collection of short fiction, “Five Stories,” because, “his wonderfully shaped stories take surprising and unexpected paths.”

The Merriam-Frontier Award was established by H.G. Merriam, UM professor of English and creative writing from 1919 to 1954, and includes a $500 prize and funds to publish the winning entries as a chapbook. The contest is open to undergraduate and graduate students each autumn semester.

Frontier, later titled Frontier and Midland, was a distinguished quarterly journal founded and edited by H.G. Merriam and published at UM from 1920 to 1939. Contributors included then-emerging talents Wallace Stegner, A.B. Guthrie Jr., William Saroyan, Dorothy Johnson, John Mason Brown, Weldon Kees, Thomas McGrath and many others. A particular strength of the journal was its frequent publication of work by young authors, a tradition the Merriam-Frontier Award honors and continues.

The reading is sponsored by the UM Creative Writing Program and the Mansfield Library. For more information call Creative Writing Program Coordinator Karin Schalm at 406-243-5267, email or visit

Contact: Karin Schalm, UM Creative Writing Program coordinator, 406-243-5267,